I decided to concentrate, for as long as was needed, solely on drawing until I felt that I had developed my own voice and technical “style”. To achieve this I spent many years just drawing (from the figure, from memory, in the street etc)

This generated an impressive number of works, running into thousands (I made 240 drawings in one night of which I kept 200!), but then disaster struck!

In 1990, whilst living in Rockbourne, in Hampshire, I had a studio in an old 16th century barn and while I was away in Holland, making restoration work, there was a problem between the farm management and one of the farm workers which escalated to the point where the tractor bay, which was directly under the studio, got torched, leading to the destruction of the whole barn except the original oak timber frame. Almost my entire output to that date, thousands of works (both drawing and painting), was reduced at a stroke to ash leaving perhaps 150 drawings and some 20 or so paintings!

I had, since 1971, been developing the theory towards working with chance generated systems for the construction and organisation of the making of works of art, encouraged by the discovery of a book, “Silence”, by John Cage, that i had come across by “chance” in a second hand bookshop in 1969….

The fire was the spur that drove me to take the plunge and actually begin to make work using those systems, and, at the same time, to leave England, as I could find no-one who was prepared to even countenance what I was proposing to do let alone support it, not even amongst my “friends”

to be continued in the “apprentice years_figuration” section

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