My work is about paradox. It is easy to relate to but may be difficult to understand. Everything is what it ‘is’- yet ‘is not’.
I could say that I make ‘existential images’ but that seems too grand. They are images in and of themselves: touchstones for the viewer. They make no allusions to any other ‘thing’; are in no way symbolic; tell no story; belong to no other family of things. They refer, continually, back to themselves. I hope they might provoke metaphors. The purpose of life is to make sense of our experience. Rarely do we make such sense without borrowing from some other experience.
The Canadian critic, Charles Cross, described my work as 'post-realist'. I aim to represent things as they are – with as few personal touches as possible - so others might tap into their own sense of the work, making a different sense of their own experience. Charles also saw it as an art form ‘for grown-ups’. People recognise the imagery instantly – they ‘get it’ - then doubts creep in as to what, exactly is going on here. Often, I adapt imagery from the past, to emphasise that all experience is nostalgic. We live in the past. Even our experience of ‘now’ is fleeting. Nothing lasts.
I am for an art that needs no explanation. From Zen I learned that nothing is quite as complicated as we think – but may be even more so. If my work says anything it says ‘here I am...now what?’ It is provocative and therefore political. My work acknowledges the politics of everyday power –viewers can make their own sense of their own experience.
Encouraged by my grandfather, whose name I later took as a pseudonym, my first ambition was to become an artist. I gained no formal qualification but did win a major Scottish prize (The Pernod) in 1974 later becoming one of the founding members of the Dundee Group (Artists) Ltd in the late 70s. I began training as a psychotherapist in 1978 later gaining a Doctorate in Philosophy, so I gave up my interest in art to pursue interests in psychiatry, developing a 30-year career as a psychotherapist, author and university professor, in the UK, Ireland and Japan.
A chance meeting with Josef Beuys in Edinburgh in 1970 had led me to give up painting in favour of conceptual art. When I returned to art in 2007 I realised that the most radical thing I could do was to paint.
Being self-taught I belong to no school or movement. I have no mentors and I owe no allegiances. Unlike Beuys - who mythologized himself through his work - or others who ‘express’ themselves through their work, I use my paintings as a blank screen; reflecting perhaps my other ‘self’ as psychotherapist.