The second is a very modest event! The Merchants Arms is a small pub in Bristol I cycled past on my way back from painting expeditions and the studio. It holds no more than 30 people, but has an incredibly genuine atmosphere, and its clients include local sailors, musicians, poets, and writers. The landlord was once a DJ, and we became friends, sharing a love of old soul music, which I used to play out a little around the city. Hearing I had some success in London and Bristol he offered me a running exhibition, which I populated with some local plain air pieces. The feedback has been positive, and one of my works was sold in a charity auction there to one of the regulars. It’s sometimes nice just to put your creative energies into a place you enjoy being.
Could you talk us through ‘In Search of My Northern Soul’ series of paintings? Last year I became increasingly demoralised by what I saw happening in the society around me in the UK. I wanted to know where the vibrant commentary and action on social and environmental injustice had gone. The effect on my work was debilitating. I also wanted to ‘go home’, but had no sense of one where that was anymore. A friend gifted me a car, a 26-year-old Peugeot 205, and I filled it with painting equipment, some books, and sleeping bag. I started at the furthermost point I knew I could impose on a friendly face (in case the auto gave out in the winter weather).
That place was relatively close to Northumberland, where my What excites you the most about father’s family had come from. your job? The trip was intended as a visual Having the freedom to be honest exploration both my own sense of about the way I see the world, isolation and identity and establish although that is perhaps the most a connection with the country and daunting part, as you are putting people that I didn’t yet feel, beyond the whole of yourself up for a vague love for the natural scrutiny. When you don’t then need environment, and a sense of f to explain your work, it’s doubly amiliarity. satisfying. Right: Broken Flight.