ESCAPISM

1st February 2017

I have been drawing maps lately. Sitting at my desk with a blank page in front of me I close my eyes for a moment and then I start.

Using fine point black pens I work from memory mostly connecting with pictures of places I’ve recently visited, taken pictures of, or seen in movies.

For the first ten minutes I usually find it very difficult to concentrate; I keep telling myself that I should be doing some real work, like preparing for the next workshop or replying to the many emails that are chocking the in-box, but the temptation to go on is stronger. In time I relax into the drawing of my map and, since I have only a vague idea of what to represent, I feel giddy with the anticipation of finding out what will emerge.

During this ‘dream-time’ state I manage to forget about everything else: the recent news from the radio bulletins and the concerns about the state of the world.

So to ease the feeling of total helplessness I escape into an imaginary world and for a few hours I can relax. Safe in the calm surroundings of my studio, I turn inward, shutting out the world forever procrastinating the decision to get up, go out and mingle.

I call this type of artwork ‘Mind-maps’; they represent places where Nature is queen and all-
powerful, where humans seldom feature and if they do, they are dwarfed by the immensity of the
landscape.

At the end of the work, when I look at the completed pictures what I see are immense glaciers, gaping craters and deserted wilderness. I find myself wondering if unconsciously they are expressing my concerns for the times we are living in. I have noticed too that my paintings are somehow darker and include many night-time scenes but I am not sure if they have to do solely with the places I have visited during recent travels. These landscapes look too bleak for my liking but the consoling element is that in most of them I see spots of brighter colours emerging here and there and small but glorious full moons that illuminate the night skies.

Like many other people I am worried about the future but luckily I’m optimistic by nature. As I write is the first day of Spring and the daylight is increasing, I do feel confident that perhaps we are not so powerless and that there is much we can do. I can’t help feeling that if turning inwards for a few hours a day helps us to momentarily escape so that we can resurface renewed and re-focused, so be it.