Since mid-2015, I have been taking a number of walks and cycle rides from which I have been collecting a mixture of sketches, photos, thoughts, poems and field recordings along the way. To me, the camera is like a sampler that enables me to extract elements (or ‘beats,’ as it were) while sketching and field recording helps me get closer to the feel of a particular landscape. The poems and thoughts tend to be direct responses to the environment, or me feeling I have the freedom to ‘release’ a certain thought or idea into that environment. New paintings reflecting on this were developed in my Dartmoor and Exeter studios.
The Cycle Diaries started as a way of exploring new ideas, initially intended to form a collection of mainly sketches and photos for landscapes. As time went on, I also found myself experimenting quite a bit with writing and performance stills – the land remaining a subtle reprieve to increasing disconnection.
22 June: Getting Lost!
I set out with the aim of riding from Exeter to Dawlish Warren, roughly 22 miles there and back. As I was reaching the Double Locks, I changed my mind and decided to head for Haldon cycle track via Shillingford St. George. I had ridden this way before while living in a pub in nearby Doddiscombsleigh. However, I ended up in Kennford, not exactly off course, but not advisable to try and get to Haldon via the dual carriageway! I asked a lady for directions and she pointed me back towards Clapham. As I was riding back, I noticed a sign for Haldon campsite and headed up what turned out to be a monster of a hill, which took me way off course! The ride down the hill was great fun though, as I got splattered with mud speeding down the country lane. I came to a crossroads and ditched the idea of Haldon, instead embracing this wayward journey to which I hoped to find my way to Dawlish Warren (back to Plan A). I found the route to Kenton from the back roads, by way of the woodland gardens and Belvedere Tower at Powderham – more hills with some breath-taking views and great fun to ride down! I got directions to Kenton from a couple walking their dog and then a nice lady in Kenton directed me to Starcross, which I managed to find via taking a shortcut through fields near Powderham. From there, it was a decidedly more straightforward journey to Dawlish Warren where I had chocolate ice-cream and hot chocolate with whipped cream. My thighs were burning from all the hills, but the sun had come out and I sat on the beach before riding the cycle trail back to Exeter. I found the sky particularly dramatic today and most of the photos reflect my being drawn to that. All in all, I covered almost 30 miles on the bike!
Reductions are developments inspired largely by some of the drone and dub techno I often listen to – sounds stripped down to form an elongated sparseness that seem to grow into something new each time you hear it. A lot of the music I listen to fuses samples from the natural environment and I consider my approach to drawing and painting to hold something of a methodological affinity.