When not working on commission, many of my working days are spent teaching heritage crafts, day classes in stencilling, evening ones in up-cycling furniture but in my spare time I travel … Far Far away, in the direction of the Silk road…
Thailand, Malaysia, Cambogia, Vietnam, Hong Kong… lands of scents and noises, colours and shimmers, unknown languages, appetising street food, atmospheric temples and wonderful festivals. My head is full of images from past trips.
Do you travel?
Have you experienced this magical moment when mesmerised you look at a scene without understanding what’s in it? But its beauty is breath taking. The written language is foreign to you, the culture so different that your bearings are lost and you cant make out the importance of different elements but you just understand how important they might be for locals.
If, like me, you have been told of for taking photographs of random street signs in the dust of an mid afternoon in South East Asia or marvel at the shape of smoke of the incense coils in a remote Chinese temple then you will understand my current work.
I have travelled in Asia for almost 10 years… not your usual young student back-backing year off but real grown up travel. Properly researched and planned with specific stops at places I discovered online first. I love Indigo blue, Chinese written language, Cantonese opera, Khmer temples in the Cambogian jungle, walking through a wet market discovering unknown food, riding in a motorbike tuk tuk but also taking a Sangtoew bus with the locals.
I have been building in a corner of my brain a collection of beautiful of images gathered over the years of beautiful Calligraphy, Indigo blue hand waxed printed fabric, street signs and colourful china. When the weather at home is dull and grey I don’t even have to close my eyes to recall them… they suddenly come out and brighten my days.
And I up-cycle my memories onto boards and canvas, small and large, pieces of unknown bits of language and beautiful colours and shapes a kind of “Lost in Translation” multi media pieces of Art.
I gather images, I recycle elements, I am not a Fine Art painter, I am a fixer, a maker, a decorative art painter, a stenciller and I use all those techniques to create multi media beautiful boards full of the moments I have captured in my tribulations…
I recycle scraps of papers, tickets, ribbons, cut out pages of magazine pages collected here and there but also beautiful hand made paper brought back from Northern Thailand in the Golden Triangle, Blue pigment paint bought in a small artist shop in the old Hong Kong Central area, all treasures to be taken home and put in a picture.
So I prime and apply paint, any paint, in layers… chalk, oil, emulsion, acrylic, pigments in oil, pigments in acrylic, until the feel is right, I wax, I sand and polish, I apply translucent glazes to highlight the shades and dark glazes to highlight the wrinkled papers and more glazes and more wax until I get this feel “deja vu” this is the image I have kept in my head I apply the last wax and hang it up.
I don’t sign my work… I am not a fine art painter ! I apply my magic red Chinese seal ! This old Baba Noya man from George town (Chinese descendant but from Malaysia Pennang) carved it for me… it says my name ! I think that is the right signature for an up-cycled pannel.
What you see is not a beautiful image I painted, its a beautiful impression I brought back from my tribulations, I don’t know if the language in it makes sense … but then I did not know what the language meant when I captured it. I loved the gentle feel of peace and togetherness it created in me and I hope it will have the same effect on you. May be it will give you a longing for travelling and who know next thing you will board a plane to Asia…
PS: The written languages used to up-cycle my boards come from many sources and include, Cambodian, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, simplified Chinese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Indian of some sort, French, English, and other European languages and many more… I do not understand the words, nor the way they connect, it is possible that they have been pasted upside down and I hope you will not take offence, I find them beautiful in their own merit without understanding the meaning. I am Lost in their translation !
PSS: 5 of my “Lost in Translation” will be exhibited in The House for an Art Lover ‘s cafe in Glasgow between 22nd of May and the end of August. They are for sale.
Imago Mundi Luciano Bennetton’s art project will be hosting a collection of Art Work in Edinburgh this year and one of my canvas is part of it. It is a great honour to be asked to take part.
PSSS: I teach regular classes in Up-cycling @ The House for an Art Lover and you could learn some of the techniques I use when making my Art Boards.