Detail from ‘Ash Garden’

‘Grounded’ is perhaps a reasonable description for the current state of my practice as will shortly be explained. It is also the title of an imminent group exhibition at Cotley Tithe Barn in which I feel honoured to be included. Now that summer is almost over, it seems an opportune moment to review the past few weeks and months of work, making note of progress made, and changes too. Having had my head down painting in recent times, I’ve not spent so much time going out and collecting accounts as described in the questionnaire ‘Somerset Fables’ posted earlier.  A few stories have trickled in, and one will become part of the event at Cotley. But I’m now thinking of that as being the real start of working to bring together tales of memorable experiences that people have had out in the landscape of Somerset. Since starting this project it has become more evident to me what a large and indeed ‘contrasty’ county Somerset is. I’ve only ventured into small corners of it along the southern border. But those peregrinations have already generated fresh encounters with places that are for one reason or another quite remarkable. Probably another hundred or so years is needed to visit and respond to all the rest! Recently whilst out on foot I have been briefly chased by an emu, lost in a tempest, and found quietly mysterious places off the beaten track. They are changing my original plans somewhat..In terms of painting, those direct, phenomenological occurrences become the primary content for that activity. It also seems clear that most of those kinds of happenings are not so much to do with unexplained mysterious phenomena, but to meetings with real animals, plants and weather in certain situations. It is the way that the emergence of these entities relates to so many other parallel thoughts, memories and more universal issues that seem to be at the core of  my current engagement with immediate surroundings.  I also feel that the contributions of others via the questionnaire will be treated differently, and if interpreted at all, done with alternative media, and with the original account somehow displayed and credited to whoever has been involved in it’s emergence. Just recently for example, one tale has been written, edited, adjusted and rewritten by different members of the same family. Others have made suggestions as to exactly how this could be interpreted as part of an installation. It has become a shared work, and one that is potentially dynamic to put together. So, one outcome of this is that the questionnaire itself will soon be rewritten, and hopefully the exhibition at Cotley will encourage others to share a significant experience of their own. When present on site I will be attempting to add to this growing collection of Somerset fables by inviting visitors to contribute through words and/or drawing .   

Please do come along to Cotley regardless of this project (my work will only be a small part of the show there as a new guest)  – details are on the attached invitation. See you there!