Caught by the zeitgeist

Ever since my mid teens I’ve been aware of environment issues. Scientists first described global warming due to increasing carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide levels in the atmosphere around that time, Greenpeace began to highlight the detrimental effects of our activity on the environment and I used to draw ideas for houses that ran off sunlight and would be self-sustaining.

In adolescence I felt light-headed and full-hearted when I saw mountains, wooded valleys and blue skies. Warm breezes, soft sunshine and rattling leaves made me feel the desire to share how I felt because it was almost overwhelming. The balance of nature that brings all these sensations into being is too important to take for granted. Therefore I paint.

While developing my career as a Graphic Designer then, for the last 25 years, developing my own business in graphic design, I dabbled with photographing landscape or rather elements of the landscape whenever the opportunity arose. Over the last 20 years painting and drawing have crept back into my life and in the last the decade painting has triumphed as my medium of expression. My desire to share my love of landscape has become almost a need and in my maturity I also understand the importance of being in the natural world and appreciating our place in it.

It also turns out that the subject is more important than ever to all of us. Replace the terms ‘landscape’ and ‘natural world’ with ‘environment’ and it becomes apparent that what I have been exploring through instinct has been explored by others through the media of science and writing, journalism and philosophy. My appreciation of trees as the architecture of the natural world and as metaphors for social organisation has recently been enhanced by publication of studies that show how trees indeed communicate with each other (for instance). Statistics showing the increasing occurrences of respiratory problems due to poor air quality bare out my plea, through painting, for fresh air (for instance). Increasingly there are reports describing how contact with the natural world is beneficial to our well-being (for instance). Finally, though, the killer blow to those who deny there are problems with the ways we humans live on this planet, David Attenborough’s single episode on micro plastics presented as part of another high quality wildlife series, ‘Blue Planet(for instance) has heralded a popular movement to get something done.

Young people are leading this campaign exemplified by the admirable Swedish student, Greta Thunberg, shaming my generation who could have done more considering we’ve known about the issues for 40 years.

New shoots at Blagdon Lake, April 2019

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