I wasn’t always a figurative painter. When I left college, I was painting abstract paintings with a particular emphasis on the emotive qualities of colour. I loved it!
But I was involved in the anti-war movement and as time went on, I increasingly felt that there was a disconnect between my activism and my explorations of colour so I reluctantly began to introduce figuration into the work.
I began a series of paintings of faces in response to the then US Secretary of Defence’s notorious Deck of Cards, his 52 “most wanted men” in Iraq. Because I couldn’t believe that the world would be a safer place if all these men were “eliminated”, I decided that I would paint 52 battered heads in protest.
Sometimes though… I think that those heads were sort of self-portraits. Not that I’ve ever experienced war or any hardship like that but – don’t we sometimes just feel a bit battered by life? And then, I think that there’s always something else going on when one is painting. There always seems to be stuff happening beyond our control… and maybe, what we’re at is reaching for some form of peace or resolution.