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surface work series 2017-20

the background

all work:

oil, cold wax, charcoal and graphite on paper

Various dimensions

As a painter working within the principles of process art and with no reference other than the process of making work and the resulting surface, I don’t often make public reference to my private influences, as the subject in my contemporary art praxis has long superseded the original motivation.


In 2017, however, after two decades of development, I decided to acknowledge the origin of my absorption: awe for the manual labour of the coal miners in my family. Therefore, a series of paintings and frottage, ‘Surface Work’, which I began in 2017 and first installed in a derelict building yard in Montejaque, Spain, is a homage to the manual labour of these men, who repeated their punishing, laborious, monotonous and severely restricted movements, digging in the confined space and darkness of the deepest coal mine in Scotland, The Glencraig Colliery, at 610 metres below ground.

To be clear, the surface work palette does not represent coal dust, nor does the oil I use represent their sweat. I do not deviate from my subject or my intention, and there is no place for sentiment, although this is difficult as they are always with me.

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