Landscapes of Labour
Before I lost my heart to art I was going to be an engineer like my father. My Dad made electricity. He ran a power station which supplied the juice for the London Underground. Occasionally, usually on a Sunday, he would take me to work with him. This was a big thrill. We would get off the train at Wembley Park, go down the slope at the end of the platform and then walk beside the tracks to Neasden power station.
I found it all fascinating, from the rotating drum which emptied the coal from the railway trucks to the shiny dials of the control room, from the chemical lab where incoming coal was analysed to the huge green Parson's steam turbines which made the electricity.
It was a hard decision but, having got the necessary O levels in physics, chemistry and maths, I changed horses and saddled up for a life in the arts.
Something however stayed with me - a love of the grimy world of industry. On leaving Durham University I was lucky enough to get a year's placement at Beamish museum where I really got a chance to understand industrial archeology. Beamish introduced me to coal mining and gave me the opportunity to travel around the North East just as the pits, the coking plants and the rail yards were disappearing.
And now, every so often, I spend a few days working on industrial subjects. To me they are as beautiful and dramatic as any natural landscape. They come wreathed in smoke, or as ruins as eloquent as any Yorkshire abbey.
Among my favourite subjects are the steel works at Redcar, the bridges over the Tees and Tyne and (a nod to my London roots) the huge brick edifice of Battersea power station.
The three paintings here are, from top to bottom, Battersea, Redcar and the pylons of the National Grid.
If you would like to see some more I've put up a page of my industrial pictures on my website. CLICK HERE for a visit.
There are also usually a few available at The Masham Gallery. CLICK HERE to visit their site.
I hope you enjoy looking at the pictures as much as I enjoyed making them.
When I came to Durham to study in 1973 the city captivated me: the iconic cathedral and castle, the viaduct, the churches.
I had never lived anywhere hilly before, and now, everywhere I looked, I saw a series of amazing skylines.
I have been fascinated by townscapes ever since: the way the angles of chimneys make shapes against the sky, the way silhouettes recede one after the other, the interplay of horizontal roofs and vertical spires.
This is Durham from Western Hill
Everywhere I go the repeating patterns and geometric forms create different characters - some just begging to be painted and others not quite hitting the mark.
I've been thinking about it a lot recently because I'm teaching a course on townscapes this week at Artison, near Masham.
So here are some of my favourites from the last few years.
This is Askrigg, in Wensleydale, with Addleborough on the horizon. Its from my forthcoming exhibition at Herriot's Gallery in Hawes. More details: CLICK HERE
This is Whitby.
This week's course is full up but I have some other courses coming up which have vacancies:
Painting With Inks Thursday, 10th April
CLICK HERE to book a place
(4 x 2.5 hour morning sessions)
Thursday, 24th April 2014, 10:00 am to 12:30 pm + 24 Apr, 01, 08 and 15 May.
CLICK HERE to book a place.
If you're interested in any of the pictures CLICK HERE to contact me.
Don't miss my Facebook page for updates on what I'm working on. CLICK HERE to get there.