Great to have been able to work with dancers Amy Groves and Kasia Sambrook during their time with Ballet Cymru’s Pre-Professionals Programme.
Moving very slowing, the dancers improvised together, responding to each other in the moment to explore gesture, narrative, and so on, as we developed ideas and found poses which might be worked into paintings. We were also able to play with lighting, angles and clothing, creating shadows and particular arrangements of colour, for example, which might later inform compositions.
As with similar collaborations in the past, I recorded video of these passages of movement and stillness, which I was then able to work from in charcoal and oil over the following weeks in the studio.
In these pictures I also wanted to experiment with a more vibrant palette than I would normally use, so over the course of the session Kasia and Amy wore different combinations of primary and secondary colours, pushing me to work more boldly and with less familiar pigments - including a couple that were entirely new to me.
Studio sessions like this are among my favourite ways of working. Relationships between individuals and the scope for spontaneous self-expression and collaboration can, I think, lead to a kind of portraiture which is quite removed from pictures created through more traditional approaches. The paintings I’ve made so far are all small works on panel (in part because of their experimental nature, so not wanting to be too ambitious with scale), though I’m now considering something on canvas.
Big thanks to Amy and Kasia - two wonderfully talented and creative dancers who gave me so much to think about and to work with, inspiring these new pictures. Since our collaboration both have graduated from the Pre-Professionals Programme, performing at The Riverfront, Newport, and Dance House, Cardiff. Amy has also toured with the contemporary dance company K2CO in their acclaimed production 5 Solders, choreographed by Rosie Kay.