How was I affected by the Great War and why am I compelled to paint my reaction?
I was born at the close of the second world war, my parents had played their part as part of the Royal Air Force and my father was still serving. We were the victors and I did not as a child question that war was glorious. I was easily convinced that it was and grew up celebrating to the wonderful sounds of war - in my case Spitfires, Lancasters and other aircraft. My country had been victorious in two world wars how could I as a boy not believe that war was wonderful.
That changed in 1986 when I visited Flanders the site of so many great battles of The Great War including The Somme. I went for no particular reason other than to satisfy my curiosity, I returned with a strong sense of sadness but I did not realise it had changed my whole outlook on war as well, that came later. We spent around four days looking at the monuments, cemeteries and old trenches. My strongest memory from many is the rows upon rows of gravestones all with the same engraving apart from the name and sometimes the age. Those young men were all killed on 1st July 1916 the fist day of the battle of the Somme. Just a few yards away was another cemetery with similar engravings except it was 2nd July. Thousands of men were slaughtered each day until it paused in November of that year; the result was a win of a few yards of bloody mud.
As I grew older I understood that I had changed my outlook on war, any war. In particular I detest the futile losses of that so called Great War and I want to say so in the best way I know how to - in my paintings. And that is what I am doing now
The paintings below are about The Great War (World War One). They are in chronological order, the series is not finished I do not know how many will emerge.
Colour has been a big part of my painting but here you will see the colour drain out of some; then sometimes I will repeat the painting adding it back; this is my way of exploring the use of colour (or not).