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Essay by Lynne Green

Essay by John
Russell Taylor



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In Conversation

From the Exhibition Catalogue
"Early Works from the David Blackburn Collection 2012"


 The artist MAXWELL DOIG &
108 Gallery Director ANDREW STEWART


AS: You met David Blackburn as an art student.  How important was his influence?

MD: David and myself have been good friends for 28 years.  I met him in 1984 when I was starting out, so his influence was crucial.  He taught me how to draw and showed me the importance of form and structure, all of which are still central concerns today.  He opened up that whole area between the real and the abstract; and I learned from him the value of following your own path as an artist.


AS: And he started collecting your work early on?

MD: David bought my first painting, “Reclining Figure on Green” in 1985 (No. 3 in catalogue).  Actually, he swapped it for a Wilf Lunn bicycle – I was over the moon!  Over the years he has collected many of my works and he has always chosen the best pieces, many of which are key pieces from different stages.  He was a keen supporter, as he has been with other artists starting out, including Tom Burtonwood, James Healy, Martin Smith and Tomas Watson.


AS: Can David’s influence be seen in this work?

MD: Yes, in the intensity of colour, acid yellows and oranges with strong blacks.  Also, there’s the way of abstracting and isolating organic or geometrical shapes, like the edge of a figure or a boat.  The sensual, oriental line quality came through David’s work.


AS: You have used various techniques and methods to produce these early works.  Can you elaborate?

MD: With the exception of a couple of drypoints and black and white drawings, these monotypes (which are unique in themselves) have been overworked with pastel, gouache and watercolour.  So they are all mixed media and all unique pieces of work.


AS: Are there links between these early works and what you are producing now?

MD: I knew at an early stage that, when working with the human figure, that if I could feel the pose in my own body then, somehow, the drawing would be more convincing because it was more felt.  The single figure, male or female, has been central for the last 25 years,  In 1987 it was a figure with stilts or boats; now I’m exploring the figure in water, with all its formal possibilities.  In recent years, there has been more analysis of form; but I have always used the figure as a metaphor or symbol for my own inner life and vision.  As David Blackburn said in an interview, “An artist follows his own obsessions, whatever they are, and ignores the rest.”