When I started painting ten years ago my subject matter arose from childhood memories, feelings and moods. Painting seemed to be another mode in my search for connection. This personal access route felt authentic and the felt sense of recognising core themes was soothing and healing.
The process of bringing these works to completion was often slow and involved many changes. My feelings would change along the way… and as the painting resolved, parts of me resolved as well. As the images got richer and more balanced— on board and canvas— so did I.
On one of my visits back to my mother in my childhood home I photographed the image above of a gnarly branch on a very old apple tree in bloom. I had borrowed my brother’s SLR camera and had bought a black and white film. It was late March and I walked across familiar tracks and little roads with this camera. I took photos of the gentle and ordinary landscapes and landmarks that I had grown up with. I clicked away, a whole roll of images of little sandstone walls, windows, bridges, fields, apple trees, rows of poplars and other ordinary sights.
The images when developed were rather disappointing. They were not black and white but grey with little contrast.
Years later, in my workshop, I ‘treated’ them with some ink and acrylic paint. That made a mess. I tried to clean it up by rubbing it off again with a scourer. To my delight, underneath the grey surface there was colour. I loved the red that shone fiercely from underneath. It seemed to be just right in expressing my relationship to the things I had photographed on that very early and hazy spring day.
I took a photo of this new image and chose a detail to enlarge. That’s how the image on the right side was created.
I am using it in the invitation for my second exhibition in Germany. This exhibition came about because my sister is associated with the Centre where it will be held.
The opening is on Easter, together with my sister’s 60th birthday party. Our family will be there, as well as her friends—old and new connections, to celebrate our common ground — ‘our wild and precious lives’ (a line from Mary Oliver) and our shared history.