Ocean Dragons

No one knows for sure if Ocean Dragons exist. In times of uncertainty, seafaring folk will often tell of huge graceful shapes surging just below the waterline, occasionally breaking the surface. But were those dragon scales they saw, or simply the sun glittering off the water?

Because no one has ever seen one of these giant beasts in full, it’s hard to draw them, yet draw them we must, for fear that if their stories go untold, they may simply disappear over time.

I believe they can grow and shrink at will. This enables them to hide unseen beneath even the smallest vessel, and when no one is around, they can grow and grow, and throw their wings around vast swathes of water.

Ocean Dragon

Here is what I think an Ocean Dragon may look like. If you would like to own this unique interpretation of the mighty dragon, all you need do is leave a comment here on the blog. In a few days time – a winner will be drawn from the hat, and the Ocean Dragon will have found a new home. This free art drop is also being offered on my Facebook page – I’ll update this post with the winner’s name after the draw (assuming they agree to that, of course). Thanks in advance for playing.

The Thing I Want To Live For

My submission to the 2020 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition

The die is cast. I’ve just submitted my chosen work to the Royal Academy for their 2020 Summer Exhibition. This is my fourth attempt, the previous three all having been rejected at the first hurdle. I’d love to make further progress this year, and I am comfortable that I’m submitting a piece of work I’m really pleased with – its acceptance or rejection by the committee won’t change how I feel about it, or its importance to me.

I made this piece of art at a fund raising event for Sutton Women’s Centre, organised by my friend Sue. I had offered to live paint on the day – and I made this and one other piece, inspired by the atmosphere of inclusion I experienced on the day. The central guardian figure in the work represents our inner self – the version of me that looks out for me, the one with the confidence to speak truth to power. I initially conceived this device back at the start of 2018, and it’s grown and developed to become a key part of my artistic practice.

At 122cm x 61 cm, this painting is one of my biggest pieces to date. It’s made using spray paints, a couple of stencils, and some acrylic paint, applied using an old Royal Academy membership card.

Shortly after I completed the work, I was pretty sure I wanted to submit it to the show, and I’ve since shared space with it in the studio – slowly moving from pretty sure, to certain. For several months – the work has been untitled, and may have remained so had I not seen a quote by Thomas Merton, shared on social media by Julian Summerhayes. It reads:

If you want to identify me, ask me not where I live, or what I like to eat, or how I comb my hair, but ask me what I am living for, in detail, ask me what I think is keeping me from living fully for the thing I want to live for’.

Thomas Merton

I’ll find out on March 12th if the work progresses from the online stage to being delivered to the Royal Academy for an ‘in real life’ viewing. As I looked through the window today immediately after the submission was complete, I was greeted by a rainbow. I’ll take that as a good omen, or a thank you for my work, at least.

Foot note: I nearly went with this piece, titled ‘Flight of The Valkyrie’. I understand that some of this year’s judging panel has a background in film, so this piece, with a nod to Apocalypse Now, might have resonated with the judges? In the end I went with how I felt, rather then trying to second guess how someone else feels.

Remembrance : Ghost Squadron

In recent years I’ve acknowledged remembrance day through the free art project, using various poppy motifs as my designs.

This year I wanted to try something different, but I didn’t know where to start. I then received an unexpected commission, to make a multi layered stencil art work of a Supermarine Spitfire, and I set to work. This was a fiddly process trying to ensure that each stencil layer lined up and matched, but after a few attempts, I got there.

During a conversation with the recipient of the art, I began to find out more about this place called Kenley Airfield. The airfield was of vital significance during WWII and it is now the most intact airfield of its time. As I learned more about the place and its history – we began to discuss remembrance. I suggested that we could reprise the spitfire design as a new way for me to acknowledge remembrance.

Remembrance Day approaches, a day I have mixed feelings about. I’m anti war – too old now but I always said if I was conscripted as a younger man, I’d refuse. I do however think it is important to remember the horrors we have inflicted on one another, the wasted lives and shattered families, even though we don’t seem to be very good at learning from history. 

Ghost Squadron

This year’s remembrance free art drop is titled ‘Ghost Squadron’. It’s a limited edition of four spitfire silhouettes in traditional airforce green, set against a grey sky lit with a thousand silver stars. Each piece will be signed and numbered, before being hidden for people to find in the usual way. Clues to the whereabouts of the art works will be posted on my Facebook page.