Jane and I are unbelievably thrilled that the above painting - all 5m of it! Lethe has been nominated for the 2023 Chaiya Art Awards - because they get it! The Chaiya Art Awards are "The UK's largest art awards exploring spirituality through the visual arts"
Spirituality is at the core of all my work as regular visitors to my exhibitions will know - having survived a life changing Stroke at just 34 I live life fiercely and fearlessly knowing that our time on earth is beautiful and brief. I want to celebrate being alive and being able to love and be loved sharing my paintings with as many people as possible .
A lovely visitor to my show Regeneration last year who liked my poems that accompanied the paintings wrote to me and included this quote from a small book called ’The Ministry of the Word’ by R.E.C. Browne
"To preach is not to teach a lesson nor is it to give moral exhortation`; it is to make a statement which has the power to widen and deepen men’s (sic) minds, stirring their desire to know and understand, moving towards the discovery of the resolutions each should form. The preacher does not seek to possess and direct others, he hopes that others may possess and control themselves"
The Story behind Lethe
Lethe for me was a seminal picture , a work about all of the people we loved, and can only exist in memory, yet live on in how we make our life choices. Lethe came from a place of memory, it's a painting of place and about how those places can define both our past and future. In Lethe I explored how a family tragedy echoed down the generations; a suicide, born in the grinding poverty of the East Lancashire slums marked the lives of the grandparents who raised me. I could sense their fear, a fear of poverty, and a fear of being seen to succumb to the desperation which swilled around the terraced streets, dark canals and echoing weaving sheds. Even as a child I learned that places make people, and as a young man I believed that to move away was enough. But the imprints places leave on us are inexorable; we are the sum of everything and everyone who made us; places persist in us, but I believe they can be exorcised. In 2017 my show Beyond Here explored how I came to see the Yorkshire Dales as a kind of natural cathedral, it’s a vibrant and secular place of course, but one which evidently seems to hold a great deal of spirituality and not just for me. Living and working in the Dales I have seen first hand its transformative effect upon not just those such as my wife and I, who are lucky enough to live here, but upon the thousands who visit. Watching the tourists, the walkers and the day trippers I realised that they were coming for much more than countryside and open space, they were coming to find themselves. There are no literal landscapes in my paintings of the beauty spots in the Dales, or portraits of the people who visit them, but just as I hope to present in Lethe, a distillation of the time and place where our past can be reconciled to a new future. Perhaps I hope for too much from paint, but I hope you can see in my paintings that liminal experience brought about by finding ourselves alone with Creation that Thomas Grey spoke of when he wrote, ‘Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight, and all the air a solemn stillness holds and leaves the world to darkness and to me.
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Jane and I look forward to seeing you soon , thankyou x