In my work I like to concoct enigmatic narratives with an element of absurdity. Drawing from landscape and figurative traditions of art history, folklore and mythology, I combine the banal and the imagined to create disarming compositions with a surreal aesthetic. I am interested in ideas of the otherworldly and the unknown, and the inherent fear associated with encountering these. I draw upon my personal history as a British immigrant to Canada and reflect upon the conflation of cultural traditions and histories from my dual nationalities.
Things we Found at the Lake
This series takes as its starting point the traditional theme of bathers. As a recent immigrant to Canada, I became intrigued by the summer pastime of swimming in lakes. As a newcomer, I find myself between two cultures, looking back at my British cultural heritage and personal history from a distance with nostalgia and an altered perspective, whilst in a sense remaining an outsider in my adopted land. Somewhat voyeuristically, I observe people engaging with the landscape or interacting with one another. In some pieces the observed mundane activity and characters are combined with elements of fantasy including figures from British folklore rituals and history; the 'hobby horse' which often accompanies traditional Morris dancing troupes, Herne the Hunter with a stag's head, and the 'mummer' (masked figure) with animal head. Bathers are passed in the water by groups of archetypal Canadian wildlife creatures - beavers, loons, or Canada Geese, swimming in perfect formation in an absurd manner. It is an outsider's fantasy of Canadiana and Canadian wildlife. Saturated, misplaced and synthetic colouring adds to the unreality, whilst the varied surface facture draws attention back to the material of paint on a substrate creating varying levels of illusion. A string of dualities runs through the work: reality/fantasy, the mundane/the mythological, beauty/ugliness, Canadian/British, the known/the unknown, safe/sinister, observed/imagine, surface/illusion, and contemporary/historical. Neither one nor the other.