1976

It all started when I cycled home with Marilyn Monroe under one arm and King Kong under the other. Marilyn was bigger than in real life and King Kong much smaller than in the movie. Cycling over the cobbles of Wapping wharf was tricky. But having managed the weekly shop along the Commercial Road from Sainsburys to the Isle of Dogs this was a comparative doddle.

I’d cut them out of wood, and then painted them black and white. They’d been for the AA’s Hollywood fancy dress ball. Now it was over and I was taking them home.

The only space we had for these oversize cut outs was in the hall and that’s where they stood. So every time I unlocked the door I got a shock. I had to do a double take to make sure King Kong wasn’t going to attack me.

 

1977

It was Good Friday and I remember walking back from the workshop with the crucifix over my shoulder it was big and heavy and painted red and green. It was about 7.30 in the evening and as I walked along Camden High Street a guy, who Flann O’Brien would have said was 80% wall, shouted “ bloody hell he’s risen from the dead already”. He took another sup and within seconds he became 100% pavement.

Back at the squat I struggled with the crucifix to get it up the stairs. After several tricky manoeuvres I managed to get the cross to the first floor and out onto the Regency balcony where I nailed an enormous pound note onto it. It stayed there, crucified, over Easter.

That was then. This is now.

When punk burst into existence I wanted to capture its visual presence. I wanted to represent its audacious, brash, anti-establishment poses and jarring vitality. In the process I found the raw energy, which I felt was its essence, very difficult to portray and, for me, it slipped into the ether.

However in the search I became more interested in abstraction. My focus shifted towards dynamic, mood, form and colour. In the end I got to a point where I was making art with only acrylic paint and nothing else. In these forays free form paint hung from the wall and the wall-covering, whether it was wallpaper or emulsion, became part of the composition.

As I explored the separation of paint from its background I also took the background medium and moulded that independently into light relief sculpture.

Much later I was invited to make a large symbolic sculpture and painted props for a theatrical show, The Sinking of the Titanic, based on the poem by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. These were big gestural works that were to be deliberately destroyed as part of each performance. The performances were to be held in the then disused Glasgow Fruit Market and I took the opportunity to go wild in one of the neglected backspaces. This sudden burst of uninhibited activity stimulated my interest in expressive painting.  And it’s since then that I have made gestural work, but on a smaller scale.

I continue to play with ‘abstraction. I’m ever more interested in the distinctive presence of the human mark. I enjoy gesture and texture and the unpredictable, which pushes me to explore the unexpected.