Contrasts in life, contrasts in society and politics — these interest me both from my work in the theatre and in my paintings. I am becoming more conscious of human relationships or lack thereof, of interactions with each other and of our attachments to homes, animals or objects.
Much of my work has been influenced by the theatre — setting scenes for an audience to react to and explore through their own imagination.
I have used black and white primarily for its graphic quality, which is stronger and perhaps more telling visually than using colour.
THE FIRST WORLD WAR
I was in Ottawa last year, two blocks from the War Memorial, when the young soldier was shot. I watched as people laid ‘decorative’ poppies on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I wondered if they fully understood what the poppies really meant.
I wanted to contrast the beauty and delicacy of real poppies with the mud and armaments of the war
Mud, bodies in the walls of trenches, mustard gas, urine soaked cloths to counteract chlorine gas — some of the images my grandfather left me with. The memory of seeing him doubled over coughing his heart out because the mustard gas had caused emphysema. Court-martialled for malingering and the court being told by his doctor that he could not carry out orders because his feet were turning gangrenous from trench foot — the result of standing for too long in water-filled trenches.
My grandfather and my father both fought in the World Wars and were they still alive I can imagine them asking “What for?” out of their despair for the world today and its ugliness and cruelty — a world in which it appears acceptable to put money ahead of people, to invade a sovereign nation or to get rid of those who do not embrace a particular religion or way of living.
The images are of the poppies that grow on the battlefields and not the manufactured, “decorative” versions worn for Remembrance Day.
The War to end all Wars!