Tuesday, 29 February 2000

Influences

Influences

In trying to define my practice I decided the best approach, initially, would be to unravel my influences, or what I'd like to think influences me, as there are probably loads of unconscious influences on my work... In no particular order:

The high drama and grotesque elements of Goya. How he manages to portray the horrors of humanity in a way that is compelling, surreal and totally authentic.

Cartoons have always drawn me in, from Mary Mungo and Midge and Hector's House to Toy Story and A Town Called Panic. I love the anything is possible element, the animism that underpins all the stories and characters, and the belief in friendship.

The clean, inviting space of Hepworth's scultpures, and the dark depths of Rothko's paintings.

The destabilising rhythms of Theolonious Monk's piano playing, that teeters on the edge of dischordance and syncopation but always lands on its feet. I heard recently that it took him 45 minutes to warm up to achieve this. I love the sound of piano for the clarity of individual notes, the combination of string and percussion.

In poetry, I turn to Peter Redgrove for the weight of stories wrapped in extraordinary images, Razmik Davoyan for his spirituality, Jen Hadfield for linguistic ingenuity, Kei Miller for lightness, Taja Kramberger for political and personal power.

I love stories and films of human endeavour: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, Black Sun, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal, Sunbathing in the Rain, Mongol,

The pull of buildings like Guggenheims Bilbao and New York, Batllo in Barcelona, the triple staircase of Museo Gallego in Santiago, the rotunda in Morecambe's Midland Hotel, the endless arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba, the shadows thrown by the Holocaust memorial in Berlin, the extraordinary work that went into the decorative inlay in the marble of the Taj Mahal, and the sheer hell of the Shard in London.

I am defined by the difference of place, of being in a foreign culture. I discover my shape, my edges in contrast to those around me.

And then , being in the natural world is always restorative, enables to connect to my essential self.

Growing vegetables and flowers combines a consuming physical activity with the creative power of hope.

Sailing, cycling and walking all lay their emphasis on the journey rather than destination.

And I hope all these, somehow, weave their way into my work... Experiencing all of them is my practice.