I am a prize-winning professional figurative painter and elected member of the Manchester Academy of Fine Arts (MAFA). In 2017 I was shortlisted by the country’s leading art magazine for Artist of the Year. This year I have been shortlisted for the Aesthetica Art Prize 2018.
I am a social realist painter. My aim is to capture the spirit of the age and create contemporary portraiture that tells stories about my sitters through a strong visual narrative.
Zeitgeist is my ongoing series of paintings that explore the subject of humanity and its relationship with personal technology. Seeing people glued to their devices is so commonplace now that we don’t give it a second glance. I started this body of work in 2015 to reflect our increasingly addictive relationship with the technology that now dominates our lives. I’d like my paintings to act as a social documentary that poses questions about our digital epoch and the status of the human being within contemporary society.
I am particularly fascinated by how the physical and digital versions of ourselves are constantly changing. I read an interesting statistic recently (from Deloitte’s Mobile Consumer 2016) that 80% of us admit to being active on our smartphones while in mid-conversation with friends. It is clear to see that personal devices are fundamentally altering the way we interact with each other, and this change is what I wanted to chronicle through my work.
As part of my selection, simplification and painting process, I like to deconstruct and reconstruct the people and compositions that I see around me, transforming them from their original context.
The majority of my paintings feature a highly detailed figure against a flat coloured background. I always try to create a visual dynamic that is loaded with implications. Establishing a deliberate dichotomy in my work forces the viewer to focus on what that person is doing – and in doing so, it creates a sense of isolation and divorce from the real world and a psychological conflict in the painting between humanity and technology.
The titles of my paintings play off the composition, or the technology being featured, with the aim of giving the viewer clues to a deeper narrative. The more you look at my work, the more complexities unfold from what might at first seem to be a series of straightforward paintings.
As Simon Schama puts it: “In the age of Snapchat, where pictures self-erase after a matter of a few minutes, and where the sheer number of selfies stored on a device militates against an emotive hierarchy, paintings need to be exceptionally powerful to make the case for endurance.”