Real-Imagined-Remembered-Reconstructed 1998


Real-Imagined-Remembered-Reconstructed is the title of 2 large scale installations I made in 1998. These were public exhibitions at the Ashcroft Art Centre, Fareham, Hampshire and The Victoria Art Gallery, Bath. The title, concepts, writing and work in and around the installations is central to all of my work. I am a landscape artist: whether in painting; print; photography; installation or sculpture – the theme of combining topographical, imagined and remembered spaces are central to my work.

This conceptual framework originated in my early public work, which I have continued to develop in recent decades. Studying at the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London was pivotal to me developing an understanding of the centrality that consistent and original thinking has in artists’ careers. Whilst this concept and writing has been liberally borrowed by others, in the spirit of regaining legitimate ownership I am re-establishing the history of my work. Please explore this page for a deeper insight into the development of this concept within my work.

The origins of this work go back to my final show at the Slade in 1982 and a previous installation from the same year Illustrated below. ‘Drunken Boat’ Inspired by the Rimbaud poem of the same name and the untitled Installation from February 1982. These are overtly landscape works. The work then was directly inspires by days spent on the marshes of Essex and Kent drawing and photographing remote bays, salt marshes and Thames barges. The work was also indirectly inspired by the poetic films of a fellow student Jayne Parker, The Acme boat piece by Ron Haselden and the sublime Landscape films of my tutor Chris Welsby.

The conceptual framework behind the work is based upon the premise that a single point of view, image, scene or painting is a false representation historically called naïve realism. What really happens when we see is much more complex. For example a person visits a famous site such as Stonehenge as a child and revisits many years later. The visitor exclaims “It’s totally different, the trees were closer, I don’t remember the road, the stones were larger”… etc.

All of the time we are in the world our vision is modulated with memory, emotion, prejudice, idealism, editing of scale, re-ordering, re-editing, forgetting and false memory. There is no such thing as unadulterated vision. We are not cameras. We bring as much to the table as was there before we arrived.

By the time of the 1998 installations this concept had developed into a more coherent visual language where elements such as drawing, models, stone carvings photographs projections, landscape sounds and actual objects from the real world are used to play with different levels of reality, historical, actual, remembered and imagined. Artefacts all have equal but competing credence in this Reconstructed world.

The American theorist Annette Michelson used the term “Emblematic Realism” when describing the work of Marcel Duchamp. In its essence artists take objects (physical symbols=emblems) from the real world and associate them with other objects in a new context to form new meanings/new readings. Images or tableaux’s are constructed using combinations of objects often previously unrelated. Juxtaposition is delicately controlled to produce poetry from the mundane.

My paintings are constructed not from a single point of view but a complex layering and juxtaposition in the same way. They are painted from memory, sketches, photographs and imagined spaces. Not one scene but an image of the walk there and the walk back all at the same time. From a distance, from above and from inside all at the same time. In the installations the artefacts are 2 and 3 dimensional. In the paintings the artefacts are different perspectives, different times and different places and different memories. Whatever the medium the theme remains: