Gardens and Environments

Place has always been central in my work. Often, it appears in drawings as an invention, an imaginary setting for a narrative idea. But I also like making work directly from life. There’s a delight, a sense of being in the moment, that comes from working in the open air – especially during the summer months. At first you wander around, searching for the best place to sit: but there may not be a best place. As soon as you focus attention, and start drawing, the experience of the moment itself takes over and the deadening consciousness of self disappears while you relax into a kind of timeless meditation.

Some of these drawings, all from different periods, were made from life, others from the recent memory of a place. My first experiments with ‘memory’ drawings began during a Royal College of Art student residency at Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Arriving in the month of May – just as the trees were coming into leaf for an exceptionally long and hot summer, I fell in love with Paris as a place to observe and was happy to spend all day walking the streets, making drawings from life.

Back in the apartment in the evenings after roaming the city, I’d recall from memory certain glimpses of places on the streets of Paris during the day. The images seemed to project onto my mind like glowing tableaux: a little solitary bench in the corner of a dusty square, a single lit window at the top of a high building along the River Seine, with the moon appearing above its roof behind clouds. The atmospheric lighting along the banks of the Seine (long before floodlighting came to London) was especially magical – a son et lumière theatrical performance with the whole of Paris as a backdrop

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