There was always a friendly rivalry between the departments of sculpture and painting at the school in London where I studied fine art.
We, the sculptors, considered ourselves to be the practical, down to earth types. With a firm grasp on reality we would not be swayed by any passing fashion or theory. Our buildings were surrounded by a yard filled with the solid clutter of years, layer upon layer of work, made, discarded and remade. Metal, wood, great chunks of stone lay waiting for our hands to lift them to a higher function as we in our turn respected their essence, their form.
The painting department along with (worse still) the department of art theory dwelt on the upper echelons of the school, shrouded in an ethereal mist. Each notion, whim or fancy that any artist or theorist had proposed for the last 400 years was discussed at great length. Sometimes, I’d heard it rumoured, paint was applied to canvas.
In their turn, our painter friends regarded us kindly, as the benevolent intellectual might the simpleton.
But then something happened. I was seduced, you see, and here is my confession.
The smells of linseed and turpentine must have wound their way down the stairs across the yard and into my cold little workspace. An arm of the ethereal mist reached me as I welded, hammered and modelled. I found myself following, stopping only to be diverted for a short while by the smell of coffee and the clinking of billiard balls.
And what did I find? What was waiting for me as the mists parted, as I walked forward and was enveloped? It was warm to start off with, that was a pleasant change, but the first sensation to hit me, the thing that surpassed the airy debates was the alchemy… the colour!
From swollen tubes of paint these glorious colours oozed. They were taken, mixed, applied and…. well the rest is history. From the cave of Lascaux to Carracci to Pollock and beyond, our gifted friends had taken simple goo and created works filled with luminosity and joy, or deep sorrow or love or death or nothing at all. Amazing.
Needless to say it is with some humility, a certain eating of my hat that I present this section of my work. My gruff and grounded practical nature blushes as I revel with Caravaggio, Turner and Cezanne. Forgive me Hepworth, I shall never forget you Rodin.