I’ve had a bit of painterly block recently, since visiting Dublin to be completely specific. The weather in Dublin was wonderful, even though the evenings were dark we walked through the city enjoying the historical layers of architecture untroubled by German bombs. There are many secretive back lanes that service the busy bars and nightclubs that give Dublin it’s famed nightime economy. These back streets have seen 300 years or more of the grubby underbelly of Irish nightlife. These would have been the places of sexual liaisons in less permissive times, now the back streets are left to inebriated gents emptying their booze filled bladders and resting chefs, their faces eerily illuminated by their mobile phones as they take a few minutes off their feet. We stumbled on this nocturnal pairing so often that I felt impelled to draw a scene showing the characters isolated in their own activities. Timeless, almost and separated from a vivid, contemporary nightlife that was happening just out of sight. The live music is muffled by closed doors and windows. Illumination is incidental, and the smells of booze, urine and cooking blend to create a fragrance that is both intimate and universal.
Drawing anything quite so figurative is unusual unless I am in a drawing class, but I know that once an image sets itself in my head, nothing else can be done until it is out on paper or canvas. There can be no gloriously colourful abstracts until this dark and dirty image, drawn in charcoal, is finished to my satisfaction. That moment is finally here after a week of sneaking into the studio and scraping away with stubby, brittle sticks of charcoal. Frantic dashes to the bathroom to grab the hairspray needed to seal the details on each session’s layer before they smudge and blur. More leisurely trips to the bathroom to clean my face and fingers of the sooty smuts of obsessive creating.
All because twenty-first-century men, unintentionally captured my imagination in 17th-century back streets.