To be reminded that This Place (The British Isle-s) is an island always takes me by surprise.
My Father is a seaman and we lived by the sea. As a child, the sea seemed no boundary at all. Life flowed and trafficked, nothing stopped at the tide-line.
Insularity is not only geographical. Culturally we do the same things differently, but money is the great insulator, isolator and island-maker that maps my shore, that makes Me insular. Where is the boundary to my ‘neck of the woods’? Is it the rich street (or poor street) down the road-second-on-the-right, or that crisis stricken war torn living hell in the news? Well both and I know it is more. I’ve seen the wash of refugees banked up and halted along edges.
Coming from here for good and bad, my place here is unassailable and what then do I have to say of my faith or my identity? Do I have a contribution to make to this theme, and for a long time I thought that the answer was ‘no’.
I hail from a mono-culture defined as: melange in flux as it always has been, a place of dreams.
This summer (2010) Caliban’s lines from The Tempest were featured by Transport for London as a ‘Poem on the Underground’:
"Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again."
- William Shakespeare (The Tempest)
. . . and fancy WS putting my petty thoughts so well . . . But who is the monstrous, freckled Caliban talking to: a beleaguered inhabitant or bemused native, a ship-wreck survivor, or an invader? Himself the son of an exile, he’s talking to the jester, the butler and the invisible Sprite: and to us.
I had no more doubts - I knew I had something to paint.
A place of dreams . . . of abstractions, and abstract marks are the most precise for the artist if the least for the viewer, yet like music they are capable of transcending language.
I asked my long-time friend and studio collaborator Rima Farah if she and I might work together on these pieces and although we did not, her ever generous and incisive thoughts are present in the works.
Fearless noise and the babble of words are the substance of these paintings.