After many years of writing about, and curating, contemporary art, I returned to art making via The Drawing Year, a one-year post-graduate programme at the Royal Drawing School (2006-07) In the years following art school, my work was predominantly object-based and installation, although drawing – mark-making as a way of seeing and thinking – has always been a part of practice. This continued in the design and layout for a curatorial project, or as an aide-memoire or visual trace of a walk, a climb, and, with a camera, the record of a mountain landscape and encounter with its materiality and structure.

Initially, my studio practice documented  the patterns and trace of momentary perceptions – the play of light across a surface (water) or through glass (window), in line, tone and colour, figuration and abstraction.  Increasingly, I have focused upon mountains, rocks, geological formation: landscape as a mental and material cartography of the forms of nature in drawings that emphasise scale, texture and structure. Process is key – translating from a visual notation/record and/or photograph of place (personally experienced), through drawing, tracing, enlarging, creating a profile. Then, the application of graphite, charcoal, conte, soft pastel, and its removal (erasure) to define structure, texture and mass.  

Cézanne’s evocative expression ‘the landscape thinks itself in me’ seems to describe a sense of openness to, and immersion in the natural world that is common to many travellers, explorers, writers and artists. Landscape is an overly-familiar visual genre, a key component of identity and belonging, a trace of history and memory. Mountains cover over a quarter of the earth’s surface and mark the boundary between sky and earth, the known and the unknown, the wild and the tame; elemental places of otherness, they attract and repulse in equal measure. The mountaineer and writer, Nan Shepherd, echoes Cézanne’s thought: ‘Place and a mind interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered. I cannot tell what this movement is except by recounting it.’ I hope that something of this finds its way into my work.


Artist, writer, curator. Lives and works in London
Emeritus Professor of Art and Critical Theory, Middlesex University

Undergraduate training in Fine Art (Sculpture), Central School of Art and Design
Post-graduate studies, Chelsea College of Art
The Drawing Year, Royal Drawing School, London (2006-07)

1982-2017     Middlesex University, London (BA,MA,PhD)
1993- 1999    Royal College of Art (Curating)
1997- 2001    Jan Van Eyck Akademie (Postgraduate academy of art, design, theory)

2007            RDS Group Exhibition (Prizewinner),
2011/2014  2-person exhibitions, Sideshow Gallery, Williamsburg, New York
2016            The Drawing Works group show, Camden Image Gallery, London
2016            Landmarks: solo exhibition, Ply Gallery, Hornsey Town Hall, London
2018            London Art Fair
2019            London Art Fair

w Jon Bird