"Painter of the Night" BBC TV 1990

THE NIGHTWORK (1985 – 1992)

This body of work was not generated by any artistic plan, but was the result of a desperate attempt to find time to paint without infringing on the time I could devote, as a single parent, to my 3 children and my duties at Redditch College.

I had exchanged my car for a large van and converted it into a multipurpose vehicle that could be quickly transformed from “family transporter” to “camper” and so it seemed a logical next step to add further adaptations to facilitate its use as a “mobile studio” With the van in “studio mode option”, fitted with a suitable interior light and with the rear doors open, I was able work at night from direct observation and I did this, on average, 4 nights per week. Having put the children (now considerably older) to bed, I would leave the house at around 11.45pm, work till 3.30 – 4.00am and then snatch what sleep I could before rising at 7.30am to prepare the children for school. During this period, I also had to contend with the demise of my father and a distressing custody suit, followed 2 years later by the death of my ex-wife in a road accident. The consequent trauma for my children led me into a dispiriting series of fruitless attempts to obtain a teaching post nearer to our home and their needs.

It was a great physical relief when this phase of my work petered out in the early 1990s when I took the risk of committing myself full-time to painting and resumed a more normal, though far less secure lifestyle, and returned to painting in daylight.

The equipment, skills and techniques which I had developed, however, lay dormant only for a brief period, being resurrected when in the 1990s I began working in the deserted First World War Tunnels of Verdun and Vauquois and in the woods and trenches of the Somme Battlefields at night.