Ghosts Of My Life
Given the state of the weather in Britain right now, I thought it was worth revisiting my 2013 painting: ‘Ghost Story’. That winter I was back up in Leeds visiting family, and heavy snow has fallen across much of the country. Typically, I went for a walk around my old haunts, and eventually found myself in what we used to call ‘The Big Woods’ between Morley and Gildersome. With snow steadily falling and the ground already covered in a foot or so of it, I felt like I was walking through Narnia. The roar of the M621 was muffled, no birds sang, and the whole scene was eerie and, to someone like me of an overly romantic disposition, poignant in some vague and elusive sense. I could feel the muse stirring from her slumber. “There’s a painting here somewhere”, I thought. Down by the stream I found an abandoned tent, suggesting that, until the recent turn in the weather, someone had been living in the woods. Following the stream would bring me down to the mouth of the old railway tunnel that ran under the woods, a dark and foreboding place we called ‘The Hell Hole’. Before I got to it though, I found the scene painted above. Right atop the tunnel mouth, water had pooled, creating a small lake that was utterly still. The black mirror of the water’s surface was such an unusual sight that I was drawn closer and closer to the edge. Snow sifted down through the branches, clawing like skeletal fingers at the white shroud of the sky, and I really did feel like I was in one of the better tales from the Pan Book of Horror Stories editions I’d grown up reading. There was a sense of something there, some immanence or genius loci that I knew no photograph could ever quite capture the essence of. This, I realised, was a job for art. This was what I had to paint.
Japan – Ghosts