One of my favourite quotations is from Albert Einstein who said that
‘the most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science’.
This has always made complete sense to me, and this notion – of the mysterious universe in which we find ourselves and the riddle of our place in it – has always been the source of my inspiration.
This sense of mystery, together with the more elusive quality of poetry, is nearly always present in the work I most admire, such as the paintings of Samuel Palmer, Vermeer, Caspar David Friedrich and the songs of Bob Dylan. This sense of mystery is also connected to the idea of ‘the sublime’ as understood by the Romantic artists (painters, writers and composers) who were inspired by a kind of wonder and awe (beauty tinged with fear) in the face of the universe.
So, you could say that my pictures represent an effort to distil my feelings of mystery in the face of the universe and an attempt, perhaps, to try and make some sense of our place in it.
If my paintings are gloomy – and they often are – it is because I take a rather jaundiced, pessimistic view of the human race and its history and future. When people talk of saving the planet, what they often really mean is saving the human race. The world, in fact, would be a much more beautiful place without us and would soon recover if we were to disappear overnight. Despite all this, I am not such a total pessimist and, even in my darkest pictures, there is usually a glimmer of hope.
The other thing to say about my pictures is that I don’t do many of them – six in a year would be a lot. I suppose I take the view that the world is already too full of visual pollution and I’d rather not add to it unless I have a good reason to.