Text Paintings


Most but not all of these text paintings are from the 1980/90s and came about after conversations I had with Jane Graves. Her book of essays 'The Secret Lives of Objects' is a difficult read but there are moments of joy in there and I chose some of her essay titles as printable texts. She once wrote an essay from one of my text paintings. 'Now is drowning'; I destroyed it after she died in 2011, a private ritual for a special friend.

The paintings "Clutter" and "Inside the Inside" belong to members of her family and can only be seen from exhibition photographs. All text paintings are oil on canvas.



Fake Past Painting

Fake Past

36 inchs square

This painting makes me think of my own and other pasts where memory is as Proust explains for us, outside of time.


Walking Away painting

Walking Away

92 x 25 inches and 34 x 25 inches

These two paintings were made to be in the office of someone who worked for a drug rehab charity but ... when he changed that job he asked if he could swap them for a set of Jupiter moons. I was happy to get the two text pictures back especially the Russian one which I had hanging in my London apartment for ages.


Opening - Painting


46 inches square

Reading John Berger's books made me think of stately homes, sundays in my childhood, 'the bag of winds' in Homer's Odyssey and many other things.




67 x 31 inches

At art school we were taught the dynamic of rectangles and squares; years later I discovered Открытие the Russian word for Opening.


Shaker Chair painting

Shaker Chair and Standing Stone

60 inches square

When I stood in the Skara Brae village of Orkney I imagined the nearby ring of Brodgar being made from Shaker Chairs; lucky us to have imagination.


Favoured Place painting

Favoured Place

60 inches square

This painting hung in a bedroom of a friend for a few years until we fell out and both thought it was the other persons fault. What they didn't realise was that their apartment had long ago been mine and that the text referred to a memory and not a place to sleep.


Secret Smell - Painting


Secret Place - Painting

Secret Smell / Secret Place

2 x 48 x 60 inches

My parents did not get along very well and had separate rooms. My mother was unwell and in hospital for a number of years when I was a young child; I would go into her room when the house was empty and try to smell her back to me.


Beautiful Advantage - Painting

Beautiful Advantage

28 inches square

This picture was/is one of three; someday if I'm lucky I'll adjust it to say exactly what I mean.



Global Landscape

Global Language

Global Landscape / Global Language

2 x 30 inch squares

I remember Jane and I trying to invent an emotional language that had no words or pictures.


Chosen Object - Painting


Found Object - Painting


Lost Object - Painting

What is an object

3 x 42 x 46 inches

A friend has prints of this work on her wall; the actual paintings are a bit big to fit the available space. A few days after I had hung them in her sitting room she rang me to ask would I move them. I thought perhaps she had gone off them but no, she just wanted them moved; in her sitting room they made her cry (the work reminded her of her husband who had recently died), which was ok to do in her office but not when she was relaxing after a busy day.


Absent Shadow - Painting


Shadow Imagined - Painting

Absent Shadow / Shadow Imagined

2 x 38 x 54 inches

When my friend David Troostwyk died I made this work; his pictures depicted
lost or forgotten objects often though not always with their shadow.


Quark Paintings


5 x 60 x 72 inches

Q. U. A. R. K. s - Top, Bottom, Up, Down, Strange, and Charm; these are the names of six tiny particles of matter, they are never alone but always combine to form other tiny things, hadrons, protons and neutrons for example. As a schoolchild I loved science but dyslexia was my enemy; teachers, baffled by the condition, battled hard to help me find their world but rather led me away from an academic education.

In 1978 the physicist Murry Gell-Mann proposed the word Quark in reference to a poem in Finnegan's Wake by James Joyce, "Three quarks for Muster Mark". James Joyce wrote much on the pain of cuckolding; in 1978 I was in that pain and perhaps always will be, I should perhaps have called the work Blazes Boylan.


Change Empty - Painting

Change / Empty / Nothing / Other

5 x 37 x 74 inches

Five paintings I made reflecting on concentration camps that were dreamed up by the very end of extremist thought. The colours I've used blue, white and black are the chemical code for the death gas used in some of those camps though optimistically I swapped them round to black, white and blue. The four words depicted slope in a little to fit the fake shower spray that was a lie and the words in the fifth rectangle the words are repeated in a list where the plural is seen to be being obliterated. Pictures seldom mean one thing but try, when they work well, to be ambiguous.


Reflected Retangle - Painting

Reflected Retangle

54 x 38 inches

This was one of the last text pictures I managed so I included some gold leaf.


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