Thoughts & Sketches

‘Still Small Voice’ British Biblical Art in a Secular Age (1950-2014) – The Wilson, Cheltenham

For me there is no separation between spirituality and art; it is one and the same thing. To express the essence of what it is to exist is, indeed, connecting to the divine.

I was really excited about visiting ‘Still Small Voice’ Biblical Art in a Secular Age (1850-2014) at The Wilson, Cheltenham.  Biblical art has always hooked me in and captivated me.  No matter which artist or style of working, they all fascinate me.  Biblical Art always expresses so much more than a mere story or image…

The exhibition is full of inspiring pieces, all of which spoke in a variety of different and beautiful ways.  But one, for me, grabbed me by the guts and shook me hard.

Craigie Aitchison

 ‘Body of Christ’ (Red background) , 2008 – Craigie Aitchison (1926-2009)

The reduction of the image of Christ to almost a mark on the canvas, to me, shouted louder and more fiercely than any huge show of grandeur and story-telling.  It made me stop, stock-still and caught me breathless.  The vibrancy of the red background colour, with the stark, strong and definite marks depicting the image of Jesus was mesmerising in its simplicity and mandala-like as it drew me inside.  I stood for some time absorbing its energy, and with its lack of narrative I was able to explore my own thoughts through it…

Jesus’s life was a mark in time which continues to vibrate through history and into the future.  If, like this piece by Aitchison, we go behind the images, the idolatry, the rules and the teachings.  If we go right back to the essence and heartbeat of the silence, from where Jesus came.  If we listen quietly to the ‘no’-thing.  If we open up our soul and ignore the mind, we might also be able to feel the heartbeat of the silence within us, and through this connect to the divine.  If we create art from the empty, infinite void, rather than from knowledge-based, category-based, ‘fit in a box’ ideals, we too might be able to create something of such simplicity, such beauty, and with such a small but overwhelmingly powerful voice.  If we over-complicate, over-adorn, over-think the art that we create it sometimes loses its impact.

Sometimes less really is more…. 







2am Sketching

2am sketch    2am sketching    2am Sketch

2am – Woke up, couldn’t sleep; restless with a voice inside that couldn’t be pacified… Light on, grabbed bag next to bed. Found a sketchbook, pen and charcoal stick.  Sat on the bedroom floor, in the dark, in the peace; gave audience to the voice.  (Sketches above) Got back into bed. Peace. Sleep…….

Sometimes the urge to create, to draw, to speak is so overwhelming it swells through me like a tsunami; unstoppable, overwhelming, to the point of drowning if it isn’t heard….  I am ‘between studios’ at the moment (new one ready in a couple of weeks) and I am pacing around like a caged wild animal…. I wander into the space all my kit is being kept in and end up coming out, hands plastered in paint….Just have to touch it….

Paint, charcoal, pencils are as essential as oxygen – even the smell of them makes me happy…..