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about the art  Nostaglia 1984 - 1990



[ nostos: a return home, algos: pain]

In 1984 I visited Italy for the first time just before my father's death and saw Masaccio’s Trinity in Santa Maria Novella in Florence. It’s intimation of mortality and reminder of the transient nature of human life had such a profound impact on my attitudes and philosophies that I felt that I almost grew up overnight.


In many ways it has set the scene for practically everything I have achieved since. In 1987, following the sudden death of my brother I was awarded two months research and travel and returned to Italy in 1988/89 haunted but inspired by the memories and experiences of the first visit and of the intervening years.

Over the years I have been influenced by many things Italian, including the art and architecture of the Byzantine and early Renaissance eras. But one of the more fascinating aspects of this art and architecture is the fact that although hundreds of years old it is still part of everyday life. The churches themselves, many containing frescoes, alters or sculptures by the great masters are far from being museum pieces. Their pulpits carved by the great sculptors are still the platform for sermons. Whole towns built as fortified hilltop dwellings still exist as modern day communities.

As a child I was intrigued by museums (a fascination that has remained with me), and in particular, with the cathedral like spaciousness of Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum. The collections there are a splendid example of the Victorian eagerness to classify, label and display behind glass anything of interest in the name of science.


Since then, one overwhelming impression has remained namely that of the artificial environment and inappropriate context imposed on such exhibits. It is this element, this museum like habit of arranging and labelling that has influenced my approach to the composing of two dimensional images.

In many ways my work is like a conscious form of dreaming. Dreaming is the sub conscious mind’s way of filing away the experiences of life and my work is perhaps the conscious way of achieving the same. In dreams, geographical and chronological boundaries are transcended. A bewildering array of elements come together and form logical and natural relationships within the dream.


So I take elements from a range of experiences which at first may seem unrelated, but just as in dreams, they propose a new relationship with each other when brought together.

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