Filling the gaps around newly installed windows with lime mortar is a very satisfying process. The material, with the right precautions against inhaling dust or getting it in your eyes, is easy to handle with a small trowel, is sticky and has enough body, with sand and additional fibres, to paste and model into the gaps around the edges of the brick and wood.
Making good the dry split edges and cracked spines of some of my old books is an equally satisfying process. Whilst the materials, comprising Japanese Kozo papers, rice starch paste and PVC bookbinders glue, are more delicate than brick, wood, sand and lime, the process itself is similar. Reinforcing corners and spines, filling gaps and blending these minor interventions into the yellowed paper and battered leather, and massaging with bookbinders wax will help to extend the life of these already well worn books.
Dry skins and old spines and creaky joints sound like human medical conditions. Books like bodies suffer similar problems along with the aging process. The animate and the inanimate, the articulate and the inarticulate show the effects of time with remarkable affinities. Indeed I have just started to take tumeric again in tablet form to counter the effects to rheumatoid arthritis, although I doubt I will last as long as the books I have been reparing.
In the work below I am attempting to explore such affinities. Wood and gesso, paper and oil, collage and painting, frame and image, are all elements of recollection, reassemblage and reconstruction. Patterns of personal memory, fragments of collective history, imagination, association and recognition, can help to generate both aesthetic order and provide clues to potential meanings alongside the debris of loss, decay and destruction. The work below, comprising both the collage and the unfinished oil painting, is entitled 'Affinities'. It is one of a series of works painted in oil on oak panels, alluding to both 15th and 17th century panel painting techniques and shallow relief trompe l'oeil. There is still some way to go before its starts to be as much about the paint and its visceral qualities, of light, texture and colour and before the abstract relationships between the forms and shapes are fully resolved.