Early forms of blowtorch were called ‘blown lamps’ and originated as a tool for gold and silversmiths. They worked by blowing air by along a tube to a naked flame, dangerous work! The first patented model of this type is from France dated 1791 but this 20th century model still relied on a similar draught of air supplied naturally. This model is no longer in use but in it’s heyday would have produced high temperatures for a variety of metalworking tasks.
Blowtorch oil on canvas board
The green glazed pot is likely to be from the Antep region on Turkey. It’s tall and slender shape suggests it was used to store or transport oil.
Attached to the shoulder are two large handles, ideal for securing the cargo during transportation. The long volumous body and neck width provides easy access for scooping or filling with a bucket but narrow enough for a person to pour by holding it at the bottom and by a handle.
Towards the base the jars tapers and gets thinner to allow for partial burying in the ground. It’s unstable to touch and wobbles slightly.
The vessels imperfection, chipped, flaking condition are perfect to observe.
Green Vessel oil on canvas
–Sold Private Collection–
The beautiful flower of the orchid cactus opens and closes in a single night. The plant is sometimes called the night blooming cerus.
The large and colorful flower is crowned by its sizeable leafs and produces a pleasant sweet smelling fragrance.
The cacti’s ideal habitat is the canopy top of Central and South America rainforests. It grows “upon the leaf,” and lives on the surface of other plants. Like an orchid as the name Epiphyllum suggests but they are not a related species.
These flowers were kindly donated by a neighbour and placed for support in the beautiful ceramics bowls of Katherine Mahoney. These proved to be the ideal subjects for my first paintings upon return to Australia.
Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) with Jug (34 x 24cm) –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–
Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) study (35 x 25cm) –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–
Orchid Cacti (Epiphyllum) with Bowl (30 x 22cm) –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–
This beautiful antiquity was found among an array of objects nestled underneath a wooden cartwheel. It’s original function was simple, to store and contain goods like wine, grain, olive oil and honey. The vessel’s unique color, shape and texture were about to be appreciated for another reason altogether in a second life as a garden ornament, sold at a Kentish garden centre.
This weathered earthenware vessel could to be between 75 to 150 years old and quite possibly arrived from Turkey, where they are abundant in the countryside. To preserve contents at cooler storage temperatures containers were buried, explaining the chipped and weathered exterior.
Soon after purchasing the vessel I heard a rumor to the contrary. It was that objects were being deliberately damaged and buried to speed up the aging process and meet the growing demand for antiquated objects in British taste.
The falsified history and the actual charm of the vessel started a whole new avenue of exploration for me as an artist.
The White Vessel oil on canvas (100cm x 60cm)
Sold Private Collection
The Mercury car named after the messenger to the gods in Roman mythology was produced over six decades and from start to finish marketing campaigns struggled to find a strong identity.
It wasn’t different enough, had no individuality, didn’t stand out from the crowd and had to fight to compete in America’s mid-priced car market. Over the years the car became increasingly more bland until the brand was sapped of all distinction.
I enjoyed reading through the advertising slogans in each era trying to brake new ground. The “Drive the “Big M” (1950’s), “The shape you want to be in” (1985–1988), “All this and the quality of a Mercury” (1989–1994), “Imagine Yourself in a Mercury” (1995-1999), “Live life in your own lane” (1999-2004), “New Doors Opened” (2004–2011 ).
Finally Mercury vehicle production stopped in 2010.
The box for the toy version is anything but bland in my eyes.
Mercury Box (15 x 20cm) oil on canvas
Sold Art Pharmacy
Powered by its small thrust micro rocket motor the “Jet Propelled Racing Car” really was (as written on the reverse side) the “Fastest Car for it’s size in the World!”.
The colour-work and typeface is screenprinted slightly offset creating simple overlaps and subtle hues of green. The strong full red colour allowed others to be pushed close to primary strength and less concern for tone, enhancing the illusion and 3-dimensional quality of the box.
Toy boxes are a reaccuring theme in my smaller work. They have value for a collector in mint condition and graphic appeal using image and text. Painting words onto a surface is a challenge and requires a steady hand yet brings detail and intimacy to the object.
As a child I was told by my father to open toys carefully and to keep the boxes in the best possible condition. Boxes were valuable, equal to the toy inside and keeping a toy in its original box, untouched, un-played with was the most valuable. This was also highly unlikely and I just wanted to play.
Jetex Box (15 x 20cm) oil on canvas
Available Frances Keevil Gallery
Known to fans as “The Great Race”, the Bathurst 1000 is Australia’s most prominent motor race of the year. Both Holden team drivers Garth Tander and Jamie Whincup have celebrated wins between them, no less than seven times.
The Holden and Ford supercars are the main attraction on race day but the track ladies and grid girls never fail to disappoint or provide a welcome distraction.
Pitgirls (25 x 60cm) oil on canvas
As a boy I picked up conkers from the woods and gardens around my home. The ‘conker’ is the seed of a horse chestnut tree and can be used to play a traditional game called “conkers”. Threaded onto a piece of string, opponents take turn to strike each other’s conker until one breaks. Victorious you gain the opponent’s tally, “a two-er”. Overall shape was important and my favorites were always “cheesers” or “cheesecuters” which have one or more flat sides and sharp edges to do some real damage.
To get your hands on the top quality conkers was not easy task and usually involved a covert mission on a misty morning and trespassing. Situated in the private grounds of artist Ralph Steadman’s home was a tree that produced the most wonderful conkers. Unfortunately it also meant a mad dash without cover across 50 meters of lawn. Missions were often thwarted by an encounter with Mrs. Steadman and her school bell.
The conker pod opens very easily to reveal a beautiful white casing with the appearance and cleanliness of fresh paint or sliced apple. The conker inside is polished to perfection like a brand new pair of brogue shoes, a rich dark red. This brilliance is fleeting, momentary and fades so quickly, lost either to the touch of grubby hands or air as it begins rotting casing to a brown colour.
Conkers (25 x 50cm) oil on panel –SOLD PRIVATE COLLECTION–
An endearing automata tin boat made by the German company Schuco. This brand new toy has a charming old fashioned appearance expertly manufactured in China for adult collectors rather than children.
I found pleasure in describing the miniature parts in detail along with the crisp design and a hint of flair in the Captains mustache.
Dragon Fly (12x 18cm) oil on canvas
For some time now my paintings have focused on why people make collections, use or handle objects. Uncovering the values behind a collection, seeing how an object sits and relates to others nearby or interacts with the whole world around it.
I remember holding these curio objects before rearranging them onto shelves, running the pieces through my fingers and feeling the metal, glass and porcelain surfaces. Some invited touch and were made for the purpose, whilst others were meant only to be observed from a distance.
These curio’s were discovered in thrift stores at bargain prices and this is a vital aspect of the objects history and story telling for the new owner. Each piece has its own special story to tell and begs the observer to ask ‘Where did that one come from?’, or ‘Did someone give it to you?’
Thrift Store Collector Left and Right Panels (30 x 40cm) oil on panel
Private Collection, UK.