My current work is made using ink on paper. I start with observations from life then follow up with photographs and sketches, often cropping and moving things around until I am happy with the composition. Then, working quickly, various strengths of ink are laid down until the required shades of light and dark are achieved. The rapidly drying ink means that decisions often have to be made quickly and instinctively, but I hope that this gives a vitality to the work which can be difficult to achieve using other mediums. Working in this way also allows many and various different tones to develop, as well as strong or subtle contrasts, all of which contribute to the atmosphere that I am trying to create.
The work is mainly concerned with figures set in darkened interiors as I explore themes of anomie and alienation. So far it has been focused on young people, particularly young women, in ambiguous and unsettling situations, as I allude to their increasingly pressurised and difficult position in contemporary, neoliberal society.
The use of relatively insubstantial paper as a support becomes part of the attempt to convey their vulnerability. It is used in deliberate contrast to the usual support of canvas, which is tough, substantial and difficult to damage. The use of ink, a relatively old fashioned and delicate medium, can be seen as a counterpoint to contemporary, all pervasive, and sometimes overwhelming, digital media. Working in ink also means that mistakes are difficult to rectify. They have to be incorporated into the work and they become an important part of it. This stands in contrast to the hyper-perfect, filtered images that pervade social media. The marks and stains on the works represent the complex and imperfect truth of real life, as opposed to the idealised representations we see online. These small works try to convey something of the powerlessness of certain groups of humanity in the face of neoliberal capitalism and its new technologies.
There are many and varied influences on the work but I am particularly drawn to the paintings of Marlene Dumas and her portrayals of overlooked or exploited groups, such as sex workers. Kaye Donachie also addresses the issues of liminality, exclusion and power structures that I am interested in. The photography of Corinne Day, with its focus on objectified and vulnerable young women in the fashion industry, and the ambiguities in Francesca Woodman’s work, have also contributed to my creative development.