I first visited Czechoslovakia in 1987 and have been going regularly to the Czech Republic ever since. But my first Czech memory is from 1955. A Tatra T87 zooming through Hyde Park in London. I can still hear that car! Probably, but I cannot remember, I had a ride in one, as my aunt's “boyfriend” was a diplomat.
In 1969 I started some paintings with Central European themes, and this fascination has persisted ever since. Maybe my deep interest in music has helped orientate me towards European culture rather than the USA which is now the norm in England. In the late 1960's I worked with composers, who were then starting to use computers as a tool to go much deeper into the nature of sound and how to structure it. This influenced how I worked. No computers (only University departments had access to them) but in those early days pages upon pages of number charts: madness! However, from 2000 to 2005 most of my paintings were 'painted' or substantially worked out on a computer. It was an exciting exploration trying to find a method of working that belonged to the pixel rather than the brush, whilst retaining the cunning of a painterly technique. When I printed out a painting it was a snapshot of how it was at that particular time. Usually this was the incentive to consider how it could change further; work in progress is my usual situation!
Much of my work is an attempt to find a continuity with a time that has past. I tried to paint ‘Out of Vienna’ as if I was time travelling to 1913 but sneaking my computer along. I started on this group in 1980, some of them are very large, paintings to get lost in. A couple of years ago as a joke, I added myself to a photograph of Schoenberg and his pupils. This led to the idea of weaving the weft of my life into the warp of interiors that interested me. The first three ‘rooms’ almost make a triptych: the access route to the presidential apartment in Prague castle and two bars, one in Vienna, the other in Berlin. The architecture and theories of Adolf Loos have long interested me. So the next room I wanted to do was of his ‘Mullerova Vila’ in Prague. I got permission to draw and paint there in the summer of 2005. Left on my own I was able to wander at will and soak up the atmosphere of this most enticing and perplexing house. At lunch I nipped over to the local Jidelna to find out the effect that various combinations of dumplings and sauce have on my drawing style. So far this has produced three large paintings, again almost a triptych, but I will certainly produce more. Over 15 years ago in Poronin near Zakopane in Poland, sheltering from torrential rain, I found the remnants of a derelict park that only later I learnt was a monument to Lenin. A meal eaten beneath a large tapestry in a vast and almost empty restaurant in Cesky Tesin in the winter of 1993. These things haunt me. The paintings ‘Shards from a Wasted Utopia’ of which I have made 10 so far, are my response to these and similar encounters.
In the last 7 years nearly all my work has been a development of paintings en plein air. Later in the winter, occasionally with the help of the computer, but always painted with very traditional means, these summer beginnings are transformed into multi-layered meditations.