"Sometimes I see it and then paint it. Other times I paint it and then see it.."
My approach is experimental: for example, what happens when I mix this with that and use this type of gesture or pressure or tool. I start each painting without a plan or conscious vision; and I don’t try to finish it. I let the paint and the surface and what happens lead the way. At some point in the process I’m aware that I want the abstraction to become something, to have shape and structure – a successful piece in my mind is one that balances realism with abstraction, and tells a story. The landscapes that appear in the paint are often a surprise, related to memory, unexpected associations to things I have experienced or looked at that have resonated with me in some way. As an amateur musician I sometimes associate the process of painting with musical composition and the orchestration of different marks and materials.
Katrina and I followed the expedition journey live and studied the thousands of images taken by Alejandro. James recorded the sounds of melting icebergs for us, and I translated some of the soundtracks into phonoscapes which I used as the starting point for painting. The seafloor sediment brought back from the trip is the physical element that brings the collaboration together. All my paintings for this project are made with oil paint mixed with Antarctic sediment. This sediment has been released by melting icebergs and then fallen through the sea to accumulate on the seabed. These icebergs earlier calved off the Antarctic ice sheet and the sediments contained in them eroded from the continent by that ice sheet. These sediments are therefore a tangible product of the demise of the ice sheet, a physical manifestation of loss.
My starting point for these paintings has been not to directly try and represent the Antarctic landscape but to approach the subject with the idea of uncontrolled wildness in the way I make marks and mix the materials. As James describes in the introduction, Antarctica’s dramatic majesty and other-worldliness but also a sense of fragility and loss, resonates with me in the paintings.