I think it’s probably true to say that most artists are in some way inspired by their surroundings and my work certainly has a strong connection to the site of my studio at Upton. I’ve had a studio on this site for about sixteen years now but the family connection goes back many more years. According to my Dad, my Grandfather bought the site in 1935 for £135 to stop it being built on. At the time they lived in Temples Croft, the cottage across the road and my Grandfather didn’t want his beautiful view ruined! Since then the site has been used for a chicken farm, allotments, a market gardening business, a taxi business and the running of the family coach business. More recently, my Father in his retirement sold second hand cars, gardened and met up with old friends there. My earliest memories of the site are as a child of about seven when I would accompany my Dad to work on a Saturday morning in the days when the coach firm was being run from there.
The history of the site is evident in the very ground of the place. You only have to start digging in the vegetable plot and you unearth rusty pieces of metal, nuts and bolts and parts of engines etc. Walk across the yard looking down and you will find all sorts of bits and pieces. I’m fascinated by the fact that the objects found here tell us something of the story of the place, rather like a modern day archeological site. Whilst I’ve never actually done any archeology, I enjoy visiting museums and looking at the collections of finds from pottery fragments to pieces of weapons or jewellery. Within the context of a museum’s collection these often seemingly insignificant objects are viewed in a new way or given a certain importance very different to their original function. I am also interested in the way the objects are ordered, arranged, and displayed.
I’ve been using bits and pieces picked up from the site in my work for a number of years in various ways such as taking moulds and pressings. I’ve also made use of the natural resources found there through the technique of dipping parts of plants in slip and firing them. Originally I didn’t really give much thought to the link with the place, but over the last two to three years of my Father’s life, as he became increasingly unwell, and also as I listened to and recorded his memories, the connection between my work and the site at Upton has come into sharper focus. I found myself wanting to somehow make work about the place, perhaps as a means to preserving something of it. When my Father died in June 2009 it heightened this sense and much of the work in the exhibition for Bucks Open Studios 2010 is a response to this, especially
“30 Pieces of Upton”, “Upton Memory Boxes” and “Upton Memory Circle”.