Anybody who has worked consistently with photography cannot escape becoming sensitised to the subtleties of light. Every stage in the photographic process is the result of reflected or transmitted light

Further to this is the capacity of any plastic medium to interpret light in its own terms. This is something that has driven a great many artists on the understanding that to give dumb material a quality that it does not possess is a kind of alchemy.

In 1989 I made a very large drawing for a travelling exhibition called “The Tree of Life” an initiative of the environmental organisation, Common Ground with the support of the South Bank Centre. The drawing was of an oak tree in a strong raking light; it was called “Growing/Dark” and referred to a conundrum I once read that plant cells divide more rapidly in the dark than in the light and that therefore a tree grows by default towards the light.

The idea that the principle of phototropism is a conceit, I found very intriguing. The writer and naturalist Grant Watson succinctly described this as “Growth by Contradiction” in his book “Walking with Fancy” 1943.


Growing/Dark 1989 - Pencil on paper - 10ft x 5ft