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 in 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 present to my interest in an enigmatic sense of unity.
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 that continue to explore the enigma of unity amid constant flux, 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: form is an illusion – the artist is not separate from nature.