“Concentrating on the life model as I do now has meant coming full-circle from my early studies as a 16 year old student at Bradford College of Art in the late 1950’s. I left Bradford for London and the Royal College where abstraction became my primary interest for some considerable time.
My conversion back to life drawing coincided with a move back to my roots in the north, and the need to return to some basic fundamentals. Painting the figure brought back early memories of that first life room. I recalled the claustrophobic effects of the constant heat from the one-bar electric fires, the pungent aroma of oil and turpentine, and above all I recalled the silent dedication of the student engaged in an absorbing ritual.
In the fifties we were trained to paint, and the life room was the symbolic heart of our aspiration. It was clear that to become an artist would take a long time – and much of that time would be spent in painting ‘from the life’. Some 50 years later in my case, I find that this is still my priority. Each painting is a new proposition. The risk of failure is high, the problem of resolving such a subtle form is always the same challenge, yet different enough to seem uniquely fresh each time.
As Painter in Residence at Dean Clough in Halifax, I am fortunate in having a studio more or less attached to the galleries, where I work on around 20 paintings at any one time, depending on how well each is progressing.
At present the nude figure is all that interests me as a subject for painting. The nude in history is always fascinating. The mythical, psychological and sexual aspects are constantly present, but for me, it’s the universal yet ordinary experience that I’m interested in – the common-place.”