Artist’s Statement

The work shown represents a period of about 25 years. Work has been selected on the basis of association. Relevant earlier drawings and prints have been included to support the recent paintings, sculpture, photography and film. I am a landscape artist and this is the genre which connects all of the work. The work can be introduced with the following quote from Marcel Duchamp in 1913:

A geographic “landscapism” – “in the manner” of geographic maps – but

The landscapist from the height of an aeroplane – Then the field trip (400km.) Notes taken i.e. for example number of houses in each village, or then again number of Louis XV chairs in each house – The geographic landscape (with perspective, or without perspective, seen from above like maps) could record all kinds of things, have a caption, take on a statistical look.-…..

Much of my work is not a single point of view image: it is constructed from different information including reference to the means of production in this case cartography, astronomy, surveying and perspective.

Measurement, time and the movement of the heavens are all evident when one moves through a landscape. Cast shadows, the arc of the sun and moon and the constancy of the Northern Star are all persistent elements within the landscape. These are scientific and mystical at the same time. In landscapes; particularly places like Wiltshire I feel a strong sense of history: walking the same soil and looking at the same sun and moon as the people who built Stonehenge.

The paintings are more direct and more intuitive. They are an attempt to combine topographical information with an awareness of pattern and abstraction within Wiltshire landscapes. Fragments of memories of place and layered points of view are combined in single images.

Sundials, instruments, maps, grids, lines of direction and navigation are all elements woven into my sculpture and drawings. References to the sea are inspired by similar emotions as my grounding within the land. More particularly they are inspired by my father who was a Merchant Seaman during the Second World War.

“Like a small child’s dream of running away to Sea…” was how one visitor described one of my early Installations. The boats are emblems for the self. A theme directly inspired by Rimbaud’s poem ‘The Drunken Boat’ and my father’s descriptions of the Atlantic and Murmansk Convoys where he was torpedoed and sunk twice off Iceland and bombed on the Cunard liner Georgic in the Red Sea.

Much of the work is not directly representational in the traditional sense. The world is an infinitely beautiful place but I believe it is beyond representation what we do as artists is remind people of this by alluding to the sublime nature of our existence. The work is poetry not prose.

I am inspired by a long line of mystical landscape artists going back to William Blake, Wordsworth and Samuel Palmer, Continuing into the 20th century with the landscape painter Paul Nash, the filmmaker and painter Peter Greenaway and the filmmaker and my tutor at the Slade School of Fine Art: Chris Welsby.

David O’Connor 2012