Below is a wee explanation of what I have been up to...
Often images, fragments of ideas or characters will appear in my head (prompted by any number of stimuli, from a glimpsed hat to a piece of music) that take months or even years to deconstruct; I also return to subjects endlessly before their significance to me becomes apparent.
It is a continual, rolling process, with a thread running through each piece of work that seems to suggest the next. It is not entirely linear however; much more like a delta than a straight river course.
One of the main 'drives' behind the work that I produce is learning; about the medium that I am using, the brushstrokes and colours that are possible, about drawing and how best to represent the images in my head. This can be extremely frustrating or rewarding by turn, which I think I have in common with many, if not all, artists.
This year I decided to take a step back, mentally, from what I was making, and let the process run along without too much intervention. Often it is led by commerce, or suggestion; what 'should' I be painting now? I tried to let the delta run on unchannelled, taking in whatever mental detours and inventions happened over the course of the year.
In the summer we visited Copenhagen, making an excursion over to Malmo which was my first visit to Sweden, land of my father's birth and upbringing. I had no idea how this would affect me, if at all, but in fact the landscape was the part of the experience that initially appeared in my paintings, accompanied by a lot of thinking about origin, 'home' and migration.
The death of a lady, who arrived as one of our first customers at Bon Papillon and became a friend, added another element to the narrative and questions that were springing up in my head; I started to weave a fictionalised version of her story which soon spread to include other characters and became the core of this show, incorporating my experiences and sketches from Denmark… We had often discussed my 'explorer' character, who had appeared in a number of paintings, and swapped books on Magellan and other adventurers; thus my painting 'The Explorer's Daughter' is very much a wee 'thank you' for the friendship and ideas shared.
Mabel's sister, Sophia Tee attained a certain notoriety in the mid-nineties when she lost custody of her eight-year-old son Perry following his 'migration' half way around the world to his paternal grandparents' house in Sacramento; he described the solo journey, relying on the help of strangers and some minor forgery, as a bid to escape the bitter feuding of his parents' divorce settlement and shake off the 'unnatural strictures' of his upbringing in Shanghai. His prodigious talent with technology won him a prestigious award in his first year in California and he now works part-time as a consultant in Silicon Valley while finishing his schooling. He has recurring dreams of dragons.
His father, Per Solvpapir, a Danish explorer, writer and environmental campaigner now based in Rekjavik, has never commented publicly on the episode, but his 2011 book 'Distances and Dragons' contains a chapter entitled 'Family and how to escape it', which is widely read as a tacit approval of his son's behaviour.
Marigold, who was adopted by Per despite her birth being the result of an affair between Sophia and a prominent Hong Kong actor whose name is supressed for legal reasons, became an actress herself after a spell at drama college in London. Her portrayal of 'The Queen' in her father's play 'The Queen's Unravelling' received mixed, but generally positive reviews.
The couple's third daughter, Carole, the eldest, has yet to come to the public's attention in any particular field. She was said to be the most traumatised by their upbringing, the divorce and Perry's migration, and is rumoured to be working on an autobiographical piece. What form this will take is not known; described by one former teacher as a 'wildly creative and inventive individual with the spirit of a tiger' she certainly has a lot to say and multiple skills with which to do so...
Hope to see you soon!