I was born in Zaria, Nigeria in 1964, where my parents were working as medical missionaries. From 1983-86 I studied Social and Political Science at Pembroke College, Cambridge, before going on to study Fine Art at The Byam Shaw School of Art in London from 1986-89. I then went to teach Art at Canford School in Dorset from 1989-91.
Since 1991 I have worked as a freelance artist, making painting and sculpture on contemporary issues in the light of biblical values, and other more abstract work. I exhibit in a variety of contexts: galleries, art centres, schools, churches, cathedrals and festivals. These events often involve talks and practical workshops generating discussion on the issues raised in the work. In 2001 I married Sara and moved to Gloucester, where I now live and work.
Cloisters I, Acrylic on Paper. Original, image: 51 x 70cm, frame: 80 x 98cm, frame type: white-limed ash. Patterns of stone vaulting from Gloucester Cathedral cloisters are overlaid with drawings of wooden roof beams and bosses. Then I play with the lines, the spaces between, generating patterns to tease the eye.
Perhaps the key element of my work is layering – layers of colour, layers of collage and paint, layers of meaning. I take my subject – be it patterns on a wall, or a news picture – and play with the image, obscuring it a little, redefining its surface, washing it out and re-establishing it, perhaps tearing it up and re-forming it. I am trying to create something that repays looking at again and again.
The symbolic works have hidden references, partially obscured, enigmatic and inviting, yet potent and explosive for those who find them. These works may carry powerful meanings and references, but like parables, it is important that people unlock the meaning for themselves.
The abstract paintings are drawn and painted over again and again, with washes of colour to soften the contrast and to generate new marks to be followed and explored with more paint and line. Due to the depth of the layering, these paintings seem to alter at different times of the day because of the strength of light shining on them.
Dancing Light. Acrylic on Paper. Original, image: 70.5 x 116cm, frame: 102 x 146cm, frame Type: white-limed ash. This image is made up of three images from Cathedrals, which have been laid over one another. The roundels with lions and eagles are from wallpaper in St Chapelle, Paris; the coloured dots and marks are from the rose window in Notre Dame; and the large black shape is from a font in Gloucester Cathedral.
Motivation and inspiration
Many of my ideas come from looking at the newspapers and at the Bible. When I see this news story, what questions does it ask of my faith? If I believe this about God, how does it make sense of what I read in the news? Thus many of what I have called my conceptual pieces of work consider contemporary social issues from a Christian perspective, asking questions and challenging the viewer to see the relevance of Jesus Christ to all areas of life.
Whilst such works are very thought provoking, my abstract paintings set out to be playful and celebratory, delighting in the colour and form that is all around us. As in Psalm 100:1 “All the earth shouts with joy to the Lord.”
Holy Ground Project. Catalogue,A4 size magazine, 36 pages, full colour. £7.50 / €8.50. Holy Ground is a collection of shoes and stories from Christians all around the world. They are arranged around a central tree that symbolizes the burning bush, and which is lit with coloured lights. The stories are short statements about what it means for each person to believe in Christ in their particular situation. All have encountered the living God, arriving at a place of holy ground, where, like Moses, they must, metaphorically at least, remove their shoes in acknowledgement of God's holiness. Wherever I have shown this exhibit, it has engaged and moved people very greatly. The catalogue for the Holy Ground Project has photographs of the 30 pairs of shoes from around the world, with 30 stories from their owners.
Feet of Christ. Giclee print from original acrylic on paper. Limited edition of 75, image: 48 x 33cm, frame: 72 x 55cm, frame type: white-limed ash. One of a series of seven paintings about the crucified Christ. Here we see Jesus’ nailed feet, beautiful despite the agony of his death. The loosely drawn forms suggest the cuts of the whips, the blood, and the bruises of the beating he received before the crucifixion.
Works in publications
Art & Soul, by Hilary Brand & Adrienne Chaplin, p.38, p.90
The Art of God, by David Thistlethwaite
Dream Dreams at Lambeth Palace, London.
Our Lady Protectress of the Unborn Child, St Mary’s School, Ascot.