Painted Verse

This series of paintings comes from a collaboration with poet and soundscape artist, Sh’maya. Fragments, on-the-move, are taken from Sh’maya’s past; haikus drawn from travel notebooks, poems scrawled on work-break napkins, thoughts lifted from diaries, paper scraps, back-pocket sketches. These are not add-ons over pre-painted surfaces, but the formal/conceptual mechanism driving the process throughout. The stencil set became a structural devise to introduce routine and technique to the painting process. Words form the concrete basis; stenciled to the surface, painted over, edited, lost and found til they speak synonymously with the form of the paint. Poetic imagery breeds pictorial language. An unashamedly Romantic approach binds this relationship; a language of longing, mystery, hope, space and sea. It emerges an exploration of ut pictura poesis, ‘as in painting so in poetry.’


Last May I discovered a metal stencil set hidden away in a cupboard. I was fascinated by these old and redundant sets in two sizes, and wanted to incorporate their use into my painting.  Text has often crept into my work and there seemed a lot of scope here.  I dug further and also found a plastic school stencil set.  About half an hour later I received an email:

‘I have an idea which could be a proposal…….I sometimes come up with little poems which plant themselves in my head. They don’t feel right to be performance pieces and I get a little bored with standard read poetry -I was thinking that a really interesting way of releasing them would be joined with art – they are short enough to fit on canvas and I guess are quite invoking of visual response….’

This timely email formed the basis of a collaboration with Sh’maya.



Last October, Sh’maya came over for a few days and wrote some poetry in my working space as I continued to paint. He was particularly inspired by the old books piled up on the wall and made a list of the titles that grabbed his attention.  I tried to memorise the titles and remove the ones I could remember from the pile, whilst listening to something he was creating on his loop station.

We created an installation by categorising the books by title and then incorporating them with other objects that seemed resonate with the categories.

This collaboration is continuing in the context of an Accident and Emergence project called ‘Pistols and Pollinators’

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