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Abstract art origins

I recently re-discovered this photograph from 1969 and it felt like I was looking into a mirror.

When I was 14-15 I dug out this old paneled door from a stack in the stable and thought it would make a good table for the hayloft room that was going to be come my studio and party palace!

I had already covered one wall in a collage of all my favourite magazine photos and my large painting of Mick Jagger. A painted table would really complete my new decor scheme.

I sanded and prepped the surface and recruited my friend, Bill, to be my master's apprentice and we set about this project with oil paints! Looking back at it now, I am trying to remember what inspired all the different imagery.

I wonder whatever happened to Bill Stringer.

In 1968, the government launched a campaign to get everyone to 'buy British' to stimulate the economy and build on post war pride. They printed millions of paper carrier bags printed with the union flag and the slogan 'I'M BACKING BRITAIN' and this tote bag became a total fashion statement for teenagers. I had to place a Union Jack on my table.

I cannot remember why the alphabet; but the piece is signed 'Y' because that letter was left out. The recessed door handle became an ashtray (though I would not have appreciated anyone using it!), it was the season of flower power in San Francisco (1967) and psychedelia was a rising art form along with a revival of pre-Raphaelite/ art nouveau styles.

This work of 'art' made me a local celebrity when we featured in the local newspaper. If course we had to wear our school uniforms for the occasion! When not in the limelight, I was wearing mini skirts, going to church hall discos and struggling to understand chemistry and physics at school.

Now, looking back at this I understand that the themes that fascinated me then are sill evident in my paintings more than 60 years later. Pattern, symbolism, bold colours and geometry are part of my signature themes. However, since I dedicated my life to painting with a move to Vietnam in 2012, I have been searching and searching for my true self in my art. I have written illustrated books, illustrated for commercial brands, created commercial logos, painted endless landscapes and buildings but none of it touched my soul until a recent, unapologetic return to the abstract.

I don't know why I have been so shy to express myself in this way. I have been suffering from imposter syndrome (that's a new idea I quite identify with) but, at last, I have found my way back to my true self. A contemporary artist said 'When you can see yourself in your art, you know it is true'. I have found my truth and it took the re-discovery of this early work to make me recognize my artist within.

This year, I will return to my roots in Yorkshire and will be pursuing this signature theme with a new found confidence. After all, I am only painting for myself so I have nothing to worry about.

Origins' 2024 160x80cm

Acrylic on Canvas

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