In January 2016 I was asked by my friend Mark Byford to produce a work based on The Annunciation. The work was to be part of a book which recounts a series of extraordinary encounters with a diverse range of people, from eminent clerics to artists including Grayson Perry. My brief was simply to respond to the story and he would document the whole process. Intrigued, I accepted the brief and began a series of what I had believed would be preparatory studies for a final abstract painting.
I decided to work in charcoal and begin each drawing with a single gestural pencil line. This line would give me a narrative to follow and encourage me to work intuitively, responding to a feeling rather than a stereotypical visual image. Re-reading the story of the Annunciation I was struck more than anything else by what Mary must have felt - fear, surprise, confusion, and perhaps also warmth and security. I worked quickly and intuitively, producing a drawing a day, discarding the ones that didn't 'work'. When I reached number 9, for no other reason other than I felt it was the most complete, I stopped. I pinned all 9 drawings to the wall of my studio and looked at each one in turn. Without exception the first 8 looked better a different way up to the way that they had been drawn. The only drawing that was never rotated is number 9.
These drawings are totally abstract, I did not set out to convey a particular message. By far the most intriguing thing about the entire project is how each drawing is now interpreted once people read the title.
Published in Mark Byford’s book, The Annunciation: A Pilgrim’s Journey. Exhibited in Winchester Cathedral and The Minster Gallery in April, 2018.
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Exhibited at the Minster Gallery, 2018