“Entropy is the process in nature that tends to return all things to their original state.”
Ashes to ashes. Dust to dust. We commit….
I sit at my keyboard with a pile of photographs of my mother and father getting married surrounded by the other members of the Lancaster crew in which Dad was the rear gunner. It is weighted down with a pot of plasticine/playdoh the physio has given me to mould in my hands to help alleviate the pain of the osteo arthritis that is growing extra bone on me to the detriment of mobility, adding pain to the daily mix.
Decay is another word for entropy. A synonym even. So maybe my fascination with the decay of the sea defences is a subconscious acknowledgement of my own decay. I find so much beauty in the colour changes alone that the salt of the sea is causing to steel and concrete alike. I can’t remember a time since I was a student when I have studied my world as much as I do now, not a time when I loved its beauty so much. I did, in the hurly burly of the world of work, allow that side of me to atrophy. Atrophy and entropy…
Yet now I am creatively awake in a way I haven’t been since an excited 18-year-old wandered into the dangerous world of art and design. I failed the medical to join the Air Force and bounced into art college. A lad from the camps, not used to civil society, always an outsider, but taken into a world of beauty and exploration of line and tone, colour, and space. A world that fed my soul and still nourishes me mentally today.
I look down the garden through my camera lens every morning, cat at my side, and wonder how that simple act can reveal such change daily, such beauty. A sense of time passing incrementally. There may be a world in a grain of sand, a universe in a flower but there is a galaxy in the morning view. Sometimes the sunrise quite takes my breath away, sometimes it is the song of the robin, occasionally the companionship of the cat, once in a while the silver light of the moon on the frosted grass.
I walk with the camera, recoding images to work from. Occasionally I make a video, perhaps just to catch the susurration of the shingle. Oft times I take a sketch book with me making notes of what the camera can’t see, mostly though my visual training and the brilliant technology of modern digital image makers, allows me to accurately record what I see to take back into the studio.
It all feeds back into the studio – either the paint splattered box at the bottom of the garden or the studio full of printed out images in the house. Both are full of colour, both still busy although the canvas and how painful it has now become stretching a canvas slow me down. Yet stretching the canvas remains an intrinsic and important part of my rituals in painting. I have tried bought pre-stretched canvases but have always been disappointed by their quality but more, disappointed in the fracture in the rituals.
Ritual forms a part of all forms of worship and painting forms a part of that process. The spiritual is helped by formalised processes that allow the mind and spirit to dominate the body. My rituals are part of my response to beauty. Rituals the allow me to immerse myself making art and to still the doubts that bedevil any artist. Michael Kidner told me ‘do two hours a day’ and he recognised that the process of doing can overcome doubt and allow work to flower, conquering those twin enemies, doubt and inertia.
Truly ‘to paint is to love again’ and to love decay is still to love life.