At the far end of those loops of road
Is what will come and destroy it, a rich and vulgar and bewildered
civilization dying at the core,
A world that is feverishly preparing new wars, peculiarly vicious ones
and heavier tyrannies, a strangely
Missionary world, road-builder, wind-rider, educator, printer and
picture maker and broad-caster,
So eager, like an old drunken whore, pathetically eager to impose the
seduction of her fled charms
On all that through ignorance or isolation might have escaped them.
Robinson Jeffers. ‘The Coast Road’ (excerpt)
Photograph taken at Herculaneum, Italy, March 2018.
Death is always on the way, but the fact that you don’t know when it will arrive seems to take away from the finiteness of life. It’s that terrible precision that we hate so much. But because we don’t know, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that’s so deeply a part of your being that you can’t even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless.
Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky
Photograph taken at Puolo, Italy, April 2018.
This world is not a place where we can be happy. It wasn’t created for man’s happiness, though many believed this is the reason for our existence. I think we are here to fight so that good and evil can clash within us, where good may prevail thus enriching us spiritually.
Photograph taken at Pompeii, Italy, March 2018.
The wolf exerts a powerful influence on the human imagination. It takes your stare and turns it back on you.
Barry Lopez, Of Wolves And Men
This isn’t a new painting, but I recently unearthed it and added it to my Wildlife gallery. Why I chose to name it after a half-remembered post-punk/proto-goth song I’ve no idea, but I have to assume it was inspired by some collision in my mind of William Burroughs’ The Western Lands, Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing and Barry Lopez’s Of Wolves And Men, all of which I read, or re-read, around the time I made this work. I’m cautious about over explaining my motives and ideas, simply because I want to keep the mystery intact, both for myself and for anyone else who likes the painting. As Ken Kesey sagely advised: “The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”
Modern mass culture, aimed at the ‘consumer’, the civilisation of prosthetics, is crippling people’s souls, setting up barriers between man and the crucial questions of his existence, his consciousness of himself as a spiritual being.
Photograph taken at Pompeii, Italy, March 2018.
Some sort of pressure must exist; the artist exists because the world is not perfect. Art would be useless if the world were perfect, as man wouldn’t look for harmony but would simply live in it. Art is born out of an ill-designed world.
Photograph taken in Sorrento, Italy, April 2018.
A kestrel circles above the trees, gliding and fluttering. It soars higher, twining around the smooth column of the rising air. Above the dark crescents of the swifts it dwindles, feeding upon insects, swerving and half-hovering to catch them in its talons. Swallows rise to mob it; gently it rocks itself up beyond their reach. It floats up till the sky heals over it. It descends, and is visible for a moment, but it rises again to blue. Under and over the blue dust of the air it gleams and vanishes. Then suddenly it turns entirely into light, and is seen no more. I stay in the larch wood, drowsy and at peace, while the quiet afternoon subsides into song-lit April evening.
J.A. Baker, The Hill Of Summer
A new painting. The first one I’ve started and finished in 2018. Significantly, the canvas I used is the one where I made my disastrous attempt at a painting of Knaresborough Bridge when I appeared as a competitor in the 2017 Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year. It had been sat in the loft for months, like an inversion of Dorian Gray’s portrait, and I always intended to one day make good use of it. Appropriately, the painting was inspired by something I saw the weekend before the competition. It had been an unexpected heatwave that gifted Yorkshire with cloudless blue skies and temperatures in the low 30’s. I was sat in the fields close to my childhood home, making the most of the faint breeze that blew in from the hills to the west, and noticed a kestrel air-dancing in the wild meadow that lay between me and the M621 motorway roaring away in the distance. It hovered there for a long time, making subtle adjustments with its wings and tail feathers to maintain its position over whatever it is it was hunting. It was a real Kes moment, and I knew that one day I’d have to make an artistic response to it. I’ve already done my definitive Kes painting – or so I thought – but it’s been a constant presence in my imagination since childhood so why not make another? I’m pleased with the results and it now hangs in my ‘studio’.
A big inspiration in the making of this painting, was listening to this:
The 4th track is where I got the painting’s title from.