Anteriors, 2020

-Watercolour and biro on heavyweight cartridge paper, each 216 x 280mm

(Above: Top: 'External Wall, 'Worry Worms', Table Top'. Bottom: 'North Pond Hermit', 'Shielding (After Quentin Blake)', 'Still Life (Fictional Nature)'.  

These six works were developed over August  2020, motivated by three things: to produce something for the #ArtistSupportPledge on instagram; to fundraise for Downright Excellent, the Down Syndrome charity we take our four year old daughter Alice to; and to make something that could start processing the complex feelings living through Covid-19 brings up. It also needed to be something I could produce at home, away from the studio, as caring full time for our two children leaves little time and space to make work.

The watercolours are all the exact size and layout of The World of Interiors magazine, with the initial of the title swapped out for a different vowel or absence. Each one uses the materials in a different way to deal with imagery that has preoccupied me during this time, reflecting something of life as part of a shielding family in lockdown. You can see them on Instagram under the hashtag #ASP4DEX.

Above: 'External Wall', is painted from a photograph of the front of our terraced house, turning up the saturation in the photograph to reveal the myriad colours and textures in the 1920s brickwork. In my daily afternoon walk to get the kids off to sleep we walk looping routes around the nearby streets, my eye drawn to the same details of this estate that has become our reduced world.

Above: 'Worry Worms', is based on little creatures I'd been doodling during lockdown, representing various anxieties of the situation. It was improvised directly onto the paper and is designed as a repeating pattern in every direction. It refers to the stylised nature of E17 neighbour William Morris but also one of the worms is imitating a recurring shape in a pattern by Marc Camille Chaimowicz, who's own book 'World of Interiors' is another inspiration.

Above: 'Table Top', is an aeriel view of where I sit at our dining table, the site of every meal, lesson, workshop, craft project etc. It is also a collaboration with Alice, who I left to draw the coloured pencil lines over my watercolour woodgrain.

Above: 'North Pond Hermit', is based on the story of Christopher Knight who camped out hidden in the forests of Maine for 27yrs, only uttering one word ("Hi") to another person in all that time, and then only to avoid suspicion. We used an extract from Michael Finkel's great book about him, 'Stranger in the Woods', in the first ever #SaunaReadingGroup.

Above: 'Shielding (after Quentin Blake)', is based on a page from Blake's 'ABC', a book I often read Alice off to sleep with. This illustration has always preoccupied me, with that uncertain mood. As an experiment I reversed the colours in photoshop and printed out each version, making a study of both together.

Above: 'Still Life (Fictional Nature)', is an imagined view of a common sight on our daily sanctioned walks. But the weed is invented and the butterfly a mutation. The view somehow unconvincing. Thinking about how human and organic life is adapting and ephemeral in these times.

All six watercolours sold out on the first day, raising £1000 for Downright Excellent!
I am now working on a second set of six, this time including a resistance band, 'to do' lists, several snails and a self portrait made with my eyes shut.