Flamingos in France

We have recently had a short break, visiting family in France. While there I spotted this stunning work of art on a house in Argenton-sur-Creuse.

I felt the flamingos were reminiscent of my own oil on board painting 'The Dance' which is one of seven pieces I have on show at Broomhill Art & Sculpture Gardens here in North Devon until the end of July (click here for more).

It looks stunning, and I love the fact that someone had the conviction to paint it on their house - and that it overlooked the most beautiful river. On the opposite river bank there is a big cathedral, it's spire dominating the skyline.

Proust mentions church spires in his novel 'In search of lost time', which is a major influence on my work. I spent many years living and working in France and feel really at home there. Many of the vintage objects I use in my assemblage and taxidermy boxes were collected at markets there.



A memory in time

A major influence on my assemblage art are Marcel Proust's writings about involuntary memories and senses being triggered by objects.

This piece 'Jonah Hawk' represents the loss of a loved one and the journey of their soul.

It features an antique taxidermy pigmy hawk from South America that was given to me by a friend who worked at the British Museum, pyramids built from 19th century bone die. The inside of the case is water gilded in gold leaf

The bird standing on the movements of vintage pocket watches is a direct reference to Proust's seminal work 'In search of lost time'.

The handmade glazed wooden case measures 500mm wide x 670mm high x 210mm deep.

This artwork is sold.



In search of lost time - Proust's influence

Each of my works makes reference to a memory of an experience of a moment in time that has captivated me - beliefs, involuntary memories, fantasies and imaginations. Recurrent themes such as myths & legends, the natural & spirit worlds and the passage of time are distilled within each ethereal tableau.

My principle inspiration is the thinking of Marcel Proust, the acclaimed novelist who wrote À la Recherche du Temps Perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time), which examines the concept of a memory triggered by an object.

Marcel Proust

Marcel Proust

Consisting of seven volumes and 3,200 pages, it was begun in 1909 with the final three volumes being published after his death in 1922. Graham Greene called Proust "the greatest novelist of the 20th century" and W. Somerset Maugham described the novel as "the greatest fiction to date".

It is intrinsically linked to art; in it he names more than 100 artists including Bellini, Monet, Whistler and Vermeer and he directly references their paintings as themes in his stories. His work has of course influenced many writers and artists since, myself included.

One of the most famous sections of Proust's novel is his description of when he tastes a madeleine dipped in tea; it is this that inspired my assemblage piece 'The Episode of the Madeleine'. As if it is moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell, the humble madeleine invokes a memory in my childhood - as it did for Proust.

The box I have created contains an antique French madeleine baking tray, magnifying glass and watch mechanism, vintage print block pieces. It measures 970mm high, 495mm wide and 200mm deep. It has a bespoke glass-fronted wooden box, with antiqued mirror glass inside (see the gallery below).