My mother has an incredible eye for things of value and quality, bought at bargain prices and her mode of artistic expression is the collection and arrangement of her found treasures. When I was a child, my mother used to take me, – what she called – “Junk hunting”. It was a kind of treasure hunt, to try and find these extraordinary pieces she would bring home: sometimes cranberry glass, sometimes Susie Cooper ceramics, a William de Morgan tile, each little beauty discovered by her, the agent of antiques, talent spotting amidst piles of other detritus, which often had the unwelcome characteristics of being a bit smelly. These hunts generally involved trawling around second hand shops, bric-a-brac shops and stalls, and less often, because they were unaffordable, antique shops. I would sit in my striped push chair contemplating life, until I was turfed out, bribed with a doughnut or sausage roll to give up my seat to a Chinese Urn or a brass umbrella stand and, pastry completed, have to start the long moan home.
I wasn’t particularly partial to these junk-hunting jaunts. But then my mother got very canny. She started to teach me what to look out for, then I could join in the game and by the time I was four, I could spot a piece of Clarice Cliff pottery at twenty paces, identify hand-blown Georgian glass by the curved cut under the stem and various other bits and pieces. Having identified a possible “bargain”, I was trained to say, “Mummy, isn’t this a nice plate. It would look really nice in my room.” and under no circumstances ever mention the identity of the find. No need to alert the shop owner to the fact that you knew exactly what you were buying. Clarice Cliff was amongst the most distinctive and easiest of pieces to spot and even aged four, I loved the colours she used (cream, orange, black and red), the reductive and decorative style of Art Deco and for a long time I wanted to try and find something similar in my own style, which is how “Forest Reduced” came about.
I found a picture of a forest, traced the image into it’s most obvious sections of bands of colour and then tried to recreate the image with the reduced shapes and limited colour. I thought it might be interesting to show the original photograph, my colour palette and the line tracing and colour configurations which were the preparation that brought me to the final picture.