The paintings on display could be divided into four periods
His earliest works, shown on the landing at the top of the main staircase are quite abstract, although clearly based on vegetation and geological formations. The paintings from the second period, displayed in the first room, were figurative. A number of them based on Malcolm Lowry’s novel Under the Volcano and feature characters from the novel. But dominating the background are mountains, which later became the primary focus of his work.
The work then evolves again into a unique form of representation that is frequently near-abstract in its emphasis on the texture, shadow and irregular surfaces of rock and ice. these mature period works
These mature period works were my favourites.
The second room was dominated by two large paintings of the Tibetan holy mountain, Mount Kailash which he visited in early spring 2006. One painting shows it’s north face, the other, the south.
A unique mountain, Kailash is worshipped by Hindus, Jain and Buddhists alike as the home of their Gods yet is so remote and difficult to get to that it is visited by only a handful of pilgrims each year. (Art Space Gallery Press Release)
The majority of the other paintings in this and the third rooms are close ups of rock faces, many of them from quarries in Italy, Tasmania and his native Cumbria.
They are very detailed and standing back they are very realistic – particularly the Cumbrian works. However, they also have an abstract quality particularly when viewed a little closer.
A number of his paint brushes and palettes give an insight into his method of work. He works on large canvases yet despite this many of his paintings are started “plein air” and supplemented by photographs and then finished back in his studio Working in a large scale he uses large paint brushes with long handles, sometimes extending them to make them even longer.
It must be something of a challenge to get his large canvases up into the relatively inaccessible locations in the mountains. I found this interesting article by the artist, describing how he went about painting the holy Mount Kailish in Tibet.