top of page

Filthy Hands

My love for carbon and honest work.

The duality of carbon, my first love, is always with me in my daily art practice as a process painter working with graphite. My sister is a diamond expert and was for many years a diamond merchant. She thinks it's hysterical that I work with the poorest form while she worked with the most valuable. So I irritate the life out of her as I always wear my diamond ring when I am working with my graphite. Even now she inspects it under her loop, "What the hell are you doing with it? It's encrusted with shite!"

My hands are ugly working hands, my fingernails, although scrubbed and clean, are almost always dark with ingrained graphite, and my gold and diamond ring sits on my third finger as a clear display of the contrast within the element. I used to apologise for my dirty tattoos. I don't any longer. I think of my history and family as I work.

I rub and burnish, smear and shove my crushed pigment, oil and cold wax mixtures in layers of charcoal on charcoal, graphite on charcoal, ivory black on graphite, graphite on ivory black. It is a direct response to the tradition among coal miners in some areas of Scotland including the region of Fife where my family mined in the deepest coal mine in Scotland, The Glencraig Colliery, 610m under the surface. After each shift, the miners were brought up from “the pit” covered in coal dust. Their wife or children would wash them in a tin bath, scrubbing their bodies clean except for their spine. There, black dust was burnished into their skin and after time became permanent. They believed it made their back stronger.

White shirts, black jackets, Sunday Best clothes covering black paintings.


bottom of page