Ok, I’m not going to pretend to be a devoted fan of William Shakespeare and his works. However, what I do find is that there is always such a strong pull towards taking on a subject due to his ability to create such intense characters that seem to resonate. ‘Carry Me Anew’ is my latest piece that falls within an often overlooked body of work entitled ‘Stagecraft’ that houses other pieces that include the likes of ‘Romeo & Juliet’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘The Woman In Black’.
I have always been aware of other artist’s interpretations of Ophelia and when the brief came in to portray her in my own way I jumped at the chance. Being the follow up commission by Eaton Fine Art, this gave me the opportunity and freedom to further build on the previous piece (and style) ‘I’ll Take My Leave Of You’ that again focused on a female character, Mina from Dracula!
So many of my deeper, and often darker pieces are inspired and driven by incredibly personal and genuine emotions that transform the image, opening it up to a wider audience who are drawn to the character that they see for equally personal and often very different reasons. I genuinely love this and makes me so incredibly proud to be able to create art with such powerful meaning that pulls on people’s heart strings.
Research is always key, what became clear very quickly was the mental health aspect to Ophelia’s character and the ensuing tragedy that followed. Something resonated with me very quickly and powerfully and the more I continued reading, the more things built in my mind and there was only ever one way of portraying her then. What you see in my work is an outpouring of my emotions and thoughts, how I interpret a subject ensures that it will always only ever be unique, genuine and honest. It is how I talk, how I scream and how I heal.
Luckily, the impact of one’s mental health is recognised so much more than before, reasons become clearer and risks become more apparent and therefore offering more chances to save that person. What a truly tragic tale, there was no way could I simply portray her at a final point, others have, but with my narrative that drives my work and the hope that fuels the fire while fanning the flames, there had to be an alternative way of depicting Ophelia.
I wanted to ensure that my emotions didn’t distort things too much, which can mean that you go racing off in a different direction that results in a piece that, whilst still being linked, bears minimal resemblance to the aspirations of the client! So, what we see is Ophelia as a beautiful woman within the water, surrounded by the synonymous weeping willow tree and waterlilies but with those objects given another reason for being there.
The fact that Ophelia drowned fuelled my narrative, a culmination of drowning in so many ways, mentally, emotionally and ultimately, physically. This is a tale of a beautiful woman continually let down and passed off, tricked and blamed, a woman who’s heart was full to bursting yet who’s demons had grown so tall behind her that she struggled to see the white of her walls. A woman that sought beauty but found beast, a woman that desperately needed strength but fell under due to her branch breaking under the ‘weight’ of her. Yet, here exists a woman who continues to breath under water and will break the surface and be carried anew.
So what are we looking at? A drowned woman? Do you see it as Ophelia rising up to heaven and that the title therefore relates to her finding a happier place? From my point of view, absolutely not! What we see is a person who has effectively died through drowning but who’s lungs are now full of hope and is starting to rise upwards towards a more positive state of mind. Look closely and you’ll see the beauty of the lotus flowers but who’s roots swirl around Ophelia’s feet in an attempt to drag her further down and hold her there. Still waters run deep.
Subtle feathers, both white and black fall downwards, signifying the impact of both good and evil. Butterflies flutter around her, further depicting the sense of being transformed and freed, a concept that runs through so much of my works. ‘Carry Me Anew’ can scream or it can whisper, it can grab and shake or gently hug you. However, what it does do is convey that there is life after ‘death’ and to never under-estimate one’s fragility and one’s strength. Write another chapter or simply just help to hold the pen to allow another to write theirs.
Edition Size: Original
Specification: Mixed media original piece, hand signed by artist.
What happens in a few days, sometimes even a single day, can change the course of a whole lifetime...
My interpretation of the incredibly powerful story by Afghan-American author Khaled Hosseini is a piece that focuses on the seemingly unbreakable bond between Amir and Hassan in a world where the innocence of youth is King. The Kite Runner was a natural choice for me as the battle between dark and light, evil and good frequently battle for supremicy within my work and Khaled’s narrative fits perfectly. Guilt and redemption feature prominently in the novel with a pivotal scene depicting an act of violence against Hassan that Amir fails to prevent. The latter half of the book centers on Amir’s attempts to atone for this transgression by rescuing Hassan’s son over two decades later.
For me this piece had to focus on the pomegranate tree, upon learning of it’s beautiful significance and multi-layered symbolism for the two boys friendship there was only ever one route for me. “There was a pomegranate tree near the entrance of the cemetery. One summer day, I used one of Ali’s kitchen knives to carve our names on it: ‘Amir and Hassan, the sultans of Kabul’. Those words made it formal: The tree was ours.” The boys saw the tree as their special place and thought that nothing could take the friendship away from them. After the horrible tragedy that Amir witnesses with Hassan where the innocence of youth was stolen and crushed like fruit, the tree no longer holds the same meaning for the two of them. There is only one sin. and that is theft... I have created a scene that has been left wide open for interpretation and one for you to decide whether the tree is indeed dying or fighting back and to establish the links and the significance between the objects that exist within the sand-blown landscape of Kabul.
There is detail that comes out from the shadows, detail that for example might initially look like falling leaves from the dying tree but then move closer and you see that they are actually crows in the distance. Items have been placed next to each other that symbolise the gulf in contrast between fragile beauty and explosive destruction. I particularly love how Khaled set the pomegranate tree within the grounds of a cemetery to convey this powerful play between life and death and everything in-between. There is something intense about how one act, one decision made by you or another can simply crush all that is wonderful and living. I choose the title ‘Crushed Like Fruit’ for how it conveys that very destructive act, how something that is full of good can be so easily and aggressively taken by man’s actions, be that the brutal theft of Hassan’s innocence by Assef or the destruction of a beautiful country with all that remains being an empty shell.
Ultimately despite how intense the shadows may be there will exist light and light shines brightest when surrounded by darkness. It might take longer to make it’s way through but it always finds a way, two decades in this case but I am firm believer that true friendship never dies, it will wither and wilt but those with the strongest, deepest roots have blossomed and born fruit and can resist periods of drought and neglect.
Specification: 1 of 1 original - Bespoke frame & embellished canvas, hand signed by artist.
I always look for a hook within the original narrative that captures my imagination and where there is a particular character that I feel empathy and interest with. Studying Bram Stoker’s plot it was Mina, John Hawker’s fiancée that I chose to base this piece on.
She was bitten by Dracula and pursued by ‘the three sisters’, Dracula's wives with the battle to protect Mina from them and only released from her curse when Dracula was killed. What I have created here is an intense and powerful image of Mina stood looking at something out of view, surrounded by darkness and tiny details depicting Dracula and blood but with an open window of hope in the background.
Her face is abstract, showing 2 sides to her (more on this later) and at the point where her curse is being lifted suggesting that she and those who have fought to save her have won. That in itself is a perfect representation of darkness and light, despair and hope that drives my work yet I do like to conceive a secondary narrative that then makes the piece much more appealing outside of those the fan base for the film itself. I have created another concept for ’the three sisters’ that is more generic, they represent alcohol, nicotine and narcotics - each vampires in themselves as they can suck the life blood out of the individual that they get their fangs into and can only be banished for good when a significant shard of light is shone onto them, in this case hope.
So the character that you see then becomes someone that many more can relate to for so many a reason where they are looking at a female who is stalked by her own Dracula - her demons that she fights daily when the darkness replaces light. Exit light, enter night. The title, which is scrawled onto the wall behind her 'I'll Take My Leave Of You’ is subtle but when seen makes this piece whole-heartedly positive as it shows her determination to beat her curse. Curse itself is a pivotal word here, it suggests that the demons that she battles were not let in by choice but from being cursed, from a life event that inflicted these wounds that struggle to heal. And it is that combined with her determination to win out that generates so much empathy towards the woman within the picture.
Edition Size: 5 + 1AP in standard and large editions
Specification: Limited edition fine art print, hand signed by artist.
Prior to sale this original was proudly on display within the iconic London Playhouse Theatre courtsey of Dark House Studio.
Thou art translated...
My interpretation of Shakespeare’s famous play ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ is a modern take on the beautiful classic paintings that exist, by creating an intriguing image that touches you and fuels your own imagination. I enjoy presenting a scene full of drama that you would happen to stumble upon when walking through a dense woodland. One that is compact to the point that a few metres either side and you could easily walk by never knowing it existed, or try to retrace your steps to go back to what you are sure you saw but never find, maybe it was all just a dream?
Tall, dense trees that filter light through whilst creating imposing and ever-changing shadows, mist that creeps and winds around them from a previous shower, a forest floor that is so full of life and detail where so many creatures wake when others sleep and the notion that the forest becomes enchanted, a true fairytale. Sat against one of the trees is a jaded Nick Bottom who sits dejected after having his head turned into an donkey by the mischievous Puck during a rehearsal of a play. An act that was designed to scare off the other characters and upset him but failed to achieve what was intended. The queen of the fairies Titania sits alongside Nick with her arms draped around his neck offering comfort and support.
It is such a beautiful image that on first glance can be quite random but when you look closer it portrays so much more and was the catalyst for my narrative that drives this piece. Like with the majority of my work there exists darkness and light, sadness and hope, each side by side and battling for control. This is the case here as I have combined beautiful detail and a piercing light source with subtle tinges of darkness that linger in the shadows and try to encroach on what is good, or vulnerable. Coming into the scene, appearing through the glow is Oberon, the king of the fairies, a beautiful deer wearing a wooden crown has a wonderful dream-like feel, something that you might just happen to see in a glance of an eye or when the light expands and contracts.
A solitary white dove that symbolises protection to a loved one whenever used in my work rests on a branch above which only strengthens Nick’s resolve and fuelling his determination not to be beaten. You might also notice a hare sat on it’s haunches, it’s funny I had always intended to introduce animals to my forest setting and this particular time of day here in the studio sees rabbits and hares come out from the hedgerows and their burrows and sprint about in front of me. It is so good to see as the reflection from the large studio windows allows me to watch largely unseen however they do seem to have an incredible sense of danger and speed of reaction so because of this I have positioned one close to the characters so as to become a look out and alert them at the first sense of trouble.
Through finding comfort and support from those close and in spirit Nick draws from this and rises above Puck, instead of being crushed and defeated by looking like an Ass, he finds the strength to sing! The aim was to create a piece that lived up to the enormity of the play and that embraced all that is wonderful whilst putting my own twist to it and showcasing my own style. I hope I have created not just a powerful image that is authentic to the original narrative but that I have succeeded in expanding on the sense of seeking and finding comfort through those close to you, both physically and in spirit and being able to rise up, gain strength and sing.
Specification: 1 of 1 original - Bespoke frame & embellished canvas, hand signed by artist.