Further Thoughts and reflections from the artist.

Influence has caused me to paint what I do - being alive and constantly stimulated by what life throws at me is one such influence; basic human requirements are others that are there as well.
Visually, colours definitely influence my existence and situations, whether it's something in the environment or on a supermarket shelf-influence is there. Sonically, the night-time drone of industry, the distant roar of the motorway drifting through the midnight air and the space between these both and myself, resonate in my sketches and ideas; yet more immediate and probably more tangible is music, and out of all the bands I've seen and heard, a few have definitely guided and affected my direction - Joy Division, Public Image Limited and the Stone Roses.

The Roses - well, seeing them walk through the crowd to take the stage and blast out their songs at Fairfield St. was a life-changer - their ability, confidence, self-assurance and exuberance was plain to see, their debut album a treasure - played loud or soft, you can hear so many things that they and Leckie did; listening to the tunes, I can still see John Squire walking over the bridge on Wilbraham Road, head down, thinking. Public Image, with their bass-led, dub-spacious sound and hurt, personal Rantings pointed towards discovering more Jamaican rhythms and sounds; Joy Division, contemporaneous with PiL, were also bass-led, and appeared at a time when the space cleared by the Sex Pistols was there to be filled. Whilst although the lyrics were of a personal content, they subsequently caught the feel of the time when everything that had once stood proud and sure was decaying, when the future that had beckoned promptly vanished; when they were on the rise in Manchester in early '79, the Victorian sewer system in the city began to collapse causing constant disruption on the roads for years whilst undergoing repair, their music being soundtrack to the city's psychogeography .

Live, they were raw, intense and driving, their songs going deeper and darker, striking chords in the people that saw them play and who constantly played their records. They played by building up a concentrated, powerful sound and when that power could no longer be held back nor contained any more, they would let it go and really move - watch the clip of "Transmission" from "Something Else" and tell me if it doesn't travel down your spine. They held your attention for as long as they were on stage - apart from when Hooky had spotted a couple of Perry boys causing trouble for someone in the audience, jumped off-stage and chased them out of the Russell club, the others left bemused on stage getting a couple of songs together whilst he was away.

I'm being careful that I don't bullshit things up here, as so much has been written by people who were - and who weren't - there, but it was a shared communication for Novices with people who had glimpsed things not discussed, touching on subjects rarely given consideration, but which mattered and considered precious because others were looking for answers and a way through the debris of this crumbling social & economic meltdown of a country; and for a while we were privy to them, listening to what they were saying and where they were going. I had begun playing New Dawn Fades constantly after I saw them last again at the Russell in Manchester, trying to begin to understand fully what was being sung; one Monday night in May '80, I listened to John Peel and early into his programme he mentioned that he'd heard a rumour that Ian Curtis was dead - and then he played New Dawn himself. I wasn't expecting him to say that nor to play that - and it stunned me, totally, totally shocked me.

I played their records solidly for another three years, but how many times can you play them before realising that it's not going to change anything? How many times can you play Closer, cry your eyes out and then follow it up with Atmosphere just to cry a little bit more - it's like drinking a pint of sorrow followed by chaser of despair - it certainly felt like it at the time. Once I'd played Power, Corruption & Lies and heard the sunshine, I decided to move on and packed my records away; I can't recall playing them again after that though I heard the first album a year later, but wasn't interested - I'd buried it all, entombed, sealed and departed from it, never wanting to return because I didn't want to - it was too painful, too awful, too sad. Another year after that, I caught the Roses and saw the future - and then the sun did shine didn't it??!!

Joy Division made me think about what I wanted to do and what I do now - unconsciously and consciously, they gave me fuel for a destination I wasn't exactly certain of ; they were face workers, mining a seam of gold whilst others scavenged off their masters' tables. I'm not sure if you can see their influence in my works, or whether their presence is apparent, but these were not the objectives. If there is a lasting guide, a heart-rending influence, it is this - their last recorded song is beautiful and I've wondered where it could've gone from there - certainly, listening to Movement, I've tried to determine what could have been, but it's tricky to do so - you can hear panic, abandonment & people looking for a way out. My direction, my destination, is to mine that seam and obtain beauty.

For more info check out the following writings by Jon Savage, the best writer & chronicler of Punk Rock and Post Punk - these are very succinct ;

England's Dreaming - Jon Savage ( faber & faber )

Touching from a Distance - Deborah Curtis ( faber & faber ) (foreword only)

Permanent: Joy Division 1995 , London Records (sleeve notes)

Heart and Soul - Joy Division box set - London Records 1997 ( " Good evening, we're Joy Division " essay in booklet)

Check this one out as well - it's highly detailed and well worth reading (at least twice!) ;
From Joy Division to New Order - Mick Middles (Virgin Books)



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