This painting is called Enter the Sixth Land. It is some kind of portal to the place I've described here. I painted it in 1991 during a very fruitful period when I was living a lonely life in a bedsit in Westbourne Park.
I was exhibiting in galleries in London and selling almost everything. This was good but also challenging as I couldn't keep up with demand and as a young artist I was not making enough from sales to cover my living expenses.
There was a watershed moment when I was invited to show my portfolio to an art dealer at a swanky gallery in Knightsbridge, and he told me directly that although he wanted to exhibit my work in a show that opened in two weeks time, none of what I showed him was of good enough quality to exhibit and he rejected it all. I was deeply disheartened but also somewhat relieved that the pressure was off. I could step back and spend time getting the work back to where I knew it needed to be.
The truth is, I wasn't brave enough to give up my part-time job as a new car delivery driver for Ford and completely devote myself to painting*. I was feeling burned out trying to produce enough while maintaining the integrity of the work.
Then, a lot of other stuff seemed to happen; relationships, travel, injuries, mortgages and a full-time job to pay for it all and I was being dragged further and further away from my paintings.
There is a timelime close by where I continued to do nothing but paint and develop my work, and sell, and build my reputation, and my life maybe is very different there.
But in this timeline, I didn't care about my reputation as an artist and I didn't want to be churning out work to sell and I didn't devote myself fully to art. That's just the way it is.
*This was a great job. Everyday, I would be given a different new car which I had to deliver somewhere, usually another town, and often quite far away. I've taken cars to Cornwall, and a town north of Glasgow. I've pretty much visited every major city and town in the country, if only just for a few hours. If there wasn't a car to bring back, I'd take the train home, and effectively be paid for reading or gazing out of the window, and every time, I would have been somewhere new. These journeys, these glimpses of other places and other histories and other lives fed my imagination and went into a lot of the painting I was doing at the time.