A response to the surreal effect the lockdown has had in the city. The virus is portrayed as a kind of jellyfish creature floating through the streets trailing its tentacles across those who are unfortunate enough to be in the street as it passes.
This vision of the corona virus was inspired by something I saw. Someone had washed a white ladies’ dress and had placed it on a coat hanger then hooked this onto a window which was opened out at a slant above the street below.
The way the thin material billowed out in the wind like a semi transparent bell reminded me of images I had seen of some jellyfish and the way it seemed to float above virtually empty streets inspired me to paint the picture.
I imagined the virus as some frightening relentless being advancing silently along the street brushing its tentacles over the unnoticing people it passes.
The people in the windows are all displaying a response to lockdown and are very pale. They are trapped in their homes. Those outside are risking themselves. Indeed the old woman with the walking stick is being touched by a very faintly depicted tentacle and now is now infectious and likely to be ill.
I am celebrating the launch of my new page dedicated to the wonderful and inspirational tenement closes in our cities! I have been investigating and studying these environments throughout my artistic life. Glasgow City Council has three of my large major works in its collection and I have produced many paintings now in private collections both here and abroad.
I am offering a service where I will accept a commission to paint a “portrait” of your own close! (just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org)
The common close in these tenements is an extraordinary place. You are neither home or outside. The lighting in some of these toplit corner closes is as awe inspiring as a Gothic cathedral and that strange mixture of public and personal space directs our eyes as we look around. Passing folk on a stairwell can be an odd experience. We are used to seeing others on the same level as us not immediately above or below us. This sometimes has the effect of causing us to avoid staring up at the person coming down or gazing down at those coming up! ”
This is reminiscent of the Hugh Mearns’ poem, “Antigonish”…
Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there!
He wasn’t there again today,
Oh how I wish he’d go away
The painting, which contains an abundance of clues for the viewer to follow, is itself a puzzle. You are the detective and you must identify the “guilty party” using clues in Morse, semaphore, and International Shipping Flag Code, as well as straightforward logic and observation.
The intention of this picture is to help people to re-establish the skill in looking at paintings in a way which encourages reflection and awareness of meaning. This, I believe, is a way of seeing which has become atrophied in the modern world. This painting gives people a clear reason to stand in front of it and look at it.
Prints are available from the Prints page on this site.
Recently completed this painting, “The Detective”, is currently on show at The Glasgow Art Club, 185 Bath Street, Glasgow G2 4HU, till April.
It is inspired by the Golden Age of Detective fiction and contains a series of clues and visual hints which lead to the uncovering of the identity of a “guilty party” in the picture. The Golden Age is considered to have been the period during the 20’s and 30’s when writers such as Agatha Christie, Freeman Wills Crofts, Ngaio Marsh, and Edmund Crispin produced their tales of puzzling crimes and intellectual detectives.
Everything is there in the painting to allow the viewer to participate in the narrative as “the detective”. In order to properly experience this and see everything in correct resolution it is advised that the you either visit the gallery and see the painting first hand (visit the scene of the crime, so to speak), or order a hi res print from the Print Page ( I suggest A3 rather than A4) and solve the mystery in the comfort of your own home.
I have been working on a composition which will hopefully reflect my liking and understanding of the detective fiction published in the 1920’s and 30’s. I intend it to be itself a solvable puzzle. The viewer will be asked to solve the crime (after determining what exactly that crime is). There will be false leads and intricate clues to decipher. A reasonable level of general knowledge will be useful and the ability to make connections will be crucial.
I want to incorporate the elegance and style of this fictional age and use the capability of painting to break free from the restrictions of the real world. Walls can disappear, perspectives can be altered, and things can have more than one meaning…
The detail below, for example, is called “Red Herring”. Can you see why? (Say it slowly and pronounce each syllable separately.)
Nature has always fascinated me and I am looking at the interface between natural life and man-made constructions, eg. parks, houses etc.
I am also interested in the anachronistic mixing of characters and backgrounds in paintings.
Born out of the disenfranchised during the Great Depression Bonnie and Clyde were a product of the hopeless poor. For ten years after 1929 only the very wealthy lived comfortably.
This is “The Bonnie Banks of the Clyde”, 16″ x 12″, oil on canvas. The painting is for sale and prints are available.
I have been working on a number of different pictures, including the cover for Ken Matthews new book, an image based on a tenement close interior in Garnethill, in Glasgow, and a canvas based on the wonderful stories and visuals from the golden age of detective fiction (just after WW1 and featuring writers such as Freeman Wills Crofts, Agatha Christie, Edmund Crispin, and John Bude.
Welcome to the site! Recently I have been painting further pictures in the tenement close series. You can see “The Letter” in the gallery page. I will post further images as they become available.
I have also been continuing my working from poetry and the written word with the painting “Summoning the Selkies”. This was partly inspired by the beautiful poem At Roane Head, by contemporary poet Robin Robertson. (You can see and hear the poet recite in this clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hz2bto1ZVH0