The name for the series references my passion for Northern Soul music, of which I am an avid vinyl collector when funds allow. I felt my need for commentary on urban life was in danger of becoming polemic rather than articulate (Return to the Hive), and the message was overriding the craft. I sought sanctuary in the natural landscape, and looked to access communities’ heritage and lifestyles for the key to what has happened. The theme of barriers (Monument to Freedom), and boundaries on the rural landscape (North of the Border, Carter Bar), the changing pattern of human intervention is one I am still developing. As I read into the deep and complex social history of the Scottish Borders, it seemed that my project needed reshaping. My work here to date has not been purely about landscape but Man’s place in it, His interventions, His movements and struggles in and against Nature. The series of work involves close studies of the fabric of the landscape, plein air studies of the farmland (Above the Drover
Road), woodland and waterways (Tweed series of paintings) that feed the area, and larger compositions like ‘In Our Defence’ which features a World War Two gun tower curiously impotent on the barren expanse of coastline. ‘Facing the Future’ is a comment on the seeming new life in a frolicking lamb mindless of the dangers ahead on closer inspection dead in the brown grass (I reduced my palette to emphasise red, white and blue). It concerns not only of the fate of sheep farming in a failing environment as well as the mindset and prospects of the British nation following their referendum ‘decision’. The series still far from finished, as the broad agenda is now woven in with my own personal journey of uncovered secret family histories, which I uncovered along with a fantastic visual archive, including my father’s first photos from when he first visited the area in which I now live. I have worked from _archive photos a lot in the past (e.g. BullyBoys, Soap), but with this new series I hope to breathe new life into that aspect of my practice alongside my direct observational works.