Grand Constructeurs .
2011 131 x 211 cms
It's unusual for me to dream something so eloquently suggestive of a painting. I was camping with the Whitegate families and dreamed with a certainty I was viewing a black and white movie of the young men at Whitegate constructing an edifice. As the camera panned slowly left to right I witnessed them hammering, sawing, plumbing, digging and passing planks and tools to each other. All was in silence. I was in such a reverie on awaking I soon shared the vision with my fellow campers, stating that I would commit to painting such a rare event.
Given the theme, and that no such building was transpiring in the real world, I interpreted the silence as a thwarting of the Whitegate residents building aspirations. Was this to be a version of the Housing Covenant made the year before? When I conceived of a metaphor to be delivered by an absence of a building and of materials to work with there was immediate assent to the project.
Then the third generation French Cubist, Fernand Leger sprang into place. I had another look at his late career Grand Constructeurs from the 1950s. They’re a far remove from my style but I took from his paean to the construction industry the ladders, rope, bike, scaffolding and the fact that the builders have little to show for their labours. Leger’s men are pitched against an abstract sky. Mine, in homage to Patrick Haye’s who’d so desperately wanted houses for Whitegate and died before such realization, shows his Mount Antulye at the distant right of frame.