This is the first piece of work I undertook after returning to producing art after a sixteen year gap. 'Number 5 surrounded by his Associates' retains intense personal significance for me and takes the form of a wooden relief made from two hundred year-old, 9mm thick mahogany cut from discarded shelving used in a mid-nineteenth century safe. It depicts the figures 1 - 9 separately positioned in three rows and three columns. The textural richness of the wood grain is enhanced through the use of oil varnishes, whilst the composition is held together by the background painting of the central figure '5′.
The figure Five has significance for two reasons. Within the decimal system, '5' occurs naturally midway between the counting numbers '1′ and '9′ and represents half the number '10′, the identifier of that system. Besides this numeric nicety, early on in my modestly successful business career, the figure '5′ became a symbol of success. For whatever reason, every set of figures involved in this business reduced to '5′ : Telephone Number, Street Number, Bank Account No, VAT No., even the surface area of the shop floor reduced to precisely five square feet . . . Spooky or what! The Number '5′ seemed as good a starting point as any for making an artistic statement. It may only be a numeral, but attached to a piece of wood, it starts to become something else.
Wood grain and wood surface, varnish and surface quality. the protective surface through which one looks to see into and through the wood, the very material of the work. The shallow depth of the relief surface is significant, what lies within it? The numeric signifiers, appear in an order one does not immediately rationalise; are they the subject? Each number is and has its own formal character, quite different from its neighbour, just like its spectator. We recognise them and they have a substantial identity; Number '5′ has taken material form at last.
Wooden relief : Honduras Mahogany, English Ash with with oil paint and spirit varnishes