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Yes, the title of this project is a humorous reference to David Hockney’s “paper pools”: but I certainly do not claim his stature for my work! Hockney was fascinated by the ambiguous relationship between “apparent surfaces” and “real surfaces”, both of which are illusory, since they are both located in actuality on yet another surface — that of the picture.
My “puddles” (in contrast to Hockney’s swimming pools) are naturally-occurring rock pools or mountain streams. Their context is as important to me as their intrinsic character, and this series of pastel studies extends my long-standing interest, as a landscape artist, in the fundamental mysteriousness of wild places. I am fascinated by the way in which, looking into these water-filled rock basins, or streams we gain a sense that we catch sight of another world of experience from which we are necessarily separated, and which we can only see and understand imperfectly.
In 2014 the centre of my attention moved to the How Stean Gorge—a deep cleft in the limestone of North Yorkshire, where the River Nidd has carved into the rock. This dramatic formation has become something of a tourist attraction. I found inspiration as an artist in the relationship between rock and water, and the movement of the water over the underlying rock.
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