‘Ulysses’ is an acrylic painting 97x62cms on canvas. The idea for the painting originates from a poem by Lord Tennyson called Ulysses. Part of the story tells of Ulysses’ (Odysseus) resistance to the ‘sirens’. It also makes clear the singular focus of the character. In Greek mythology, the Sirens were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Ulysses wanted to hear the Sirens' song although he knew that doing so would render him incapable of rational thought. He put wax in his men's ears so that they could not hear, and had them tie him to the mast so that he could not jump into the sea. He ordered them not to change course under any circumstances, and to keep their swords upon him and to attack him if he should break free of his bonds. Upon hearing the Sirens' song, Ulysses was driven temporarily insane and struggled with all of his might to break free so that he might join the Sirens, which would have meant his death. " But the appearance did not motion their voices, for they were birds, huge birds larger than eagles. They had feathers instead, and their hands and feet were claws. But their faces were the faces of young girls" The painting is not intended as a literal translation. The story and the poem are the starting point to an expression of an idea. The painting is made in respect of the literature, mythology and ancient history associated with the story. The sources which inspire these particular paintings are varied and many, including historic signs, symbols and motifs, mythology, coastal skies, landscape, North African art, American Abstract Expressionism and I am continually inspired by modern and contemporary artists who demonstrate such a love for colour and light. John Hoyland, Barbara Rae, Elizabeth Frankenthaler, the Fauvists and the COBRA group continue to be so important to me. Music has had a profound impression on the structure of the painting. I listen to music whenever I work and in the making of this painting I have listened closely to Thelonious Monk. The boundaries of what can be managed in a painting present a constant challenge to me and through a process of layering, cancellation and improvisation my intention is always to test such boundaries.
Acrylic paint, dyes , crushed sea shells on canvas