Artist Statement

en·tro·py  (ĕn′trə-pē)
n. pl. en·tro·pies
The tendency for all matter and energy in the universe to evolve toward a state of inert uniformity.
Inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.

So there I was, fast asleep in front of the T.V. But I awoke to the smiling face of Professor Brian Cox.
He said…”I’m going to explain the second law of Thermo Dynamics.”
So I thought, ”Gosh, it’s time for bed.”
But inertia took over and I sat and listened.
To my amazement I realised it was the core subject of what I have been painting for years and have struggled to put into words. I never realised there was a scientific term that fully described my practice…Entropy. To be exact, the movement, by decay, from low entropy to high entropy. This is the action of returning all matter back to its basic elements…star dust…which is the stuff the universe was created from in the Big Bang. And therefore demonstrating what happens, over time, to all things we manufacture from the original star dust base. How nature eventually breaks them back down again to their original components.

Brian Cox was sitting in the middle of the Kalahari desert with a child’s bucket and spade. He indicated the sand dunes all around him. He mentioned they contained all sorts of base minerals that we could transform into anything from glass to massive constructions. The sand was all that was left of mighty mountain ranges that had been broken down over millions of years, to end up as tiny grains of sand. They were High in Entropy, full of possibilities.
He filled the bucket with sand added some water and inverted it. The result was a sand castle. He stuck a flag on top and said…”watch this! I have changed the entropy of the sand…it now fulfils only one objective…to be a sandcastle, thus moving from many possibilities to only one…it is therefore low in entropy. Now observe…”
The camera moved into time-lapse photography and we saw the sandcastle being dried out by the sun and wind. Slowly our solid castle broke down, eroding back into tiny particles and joining the millions of other particles surrounding them, once again becoming part of a vast desert and thus, high in entropy.

My painting has a similar principle. I paint man made things that are slowly eroding and breaking down. I try to document the movement from low to high entropy.…it is this process that fascinates me. ‘Man verses nature’, with the inevitable triumph of nature if left to its own devices. Once we manufacture anything, it soon begins to break back down…iron rusts, stone erodes and bricks crumble.

The process can be very beautiful. I have always loved old things that demonstrate this, the wonky chair, the crumbling wall or the rusting anchor. I am particularly fond of observing this process in action in commonplace situations. – hence my fascination with ageing roads and footways.

I also use this process in my painting practice… adding solvents to oil paint will cause separation of the oil from the pigment, a small demonstration in itself, of entropy in action. Then by splashing a lot of solvents on the initial stages of painting, allows the paint to separate and run and blend with other colours which in turn produce ‘happy accidents’ that can be capitalised on.
As Camille Pissaro wrote to his son, Lucien,
“Happy are those who see beautiful things in modest surroundings or where other men see nothing. Everything is beautiful, all that matters is to know how to interpret it.”

Sometimes a sleep in front of the TV can be most informative!