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Derek Sprawson

Derek Sprawson

Like the father in the Bible whose son suffers from epileptic seizures, when Jesus challenged him to believe that his son could be convulsion free, he replied, “I believe; help my unbelief!”  

Painting – a hyphenated enquiry; cognition – emotion, doubt - belief. 

It is the tension between these divergent polemics, the mystery proposed by their mutual dependence on one another that intrigues me. My practice is fundamentally a material engagement that might be described as an expanded model of painting. I am concerned with painting operating on different scales in divergent kinds of spaces, often based on realising a specific idea in a particular site or situation. Over recent years I have exploited  a range of processes associated with painting and its materiality; laminating birch plywood, cutting out or sewing shapes into objects or surfaces, adding digital embroidery or exploring the physiological qualities of mediums and paint themselves. 


A significant catalyst for my practice has been several visits I made to Bardsey Island, a small rocky outcrop off the south-western tip of the Lynn Peninsula, North Wales. I was attracted to the place as it is also reputed that the bodies of 20,000 saints are interred on the island and it is hence a significant site of Christian pilgrimage; commentators often allude to the liminality of the island. I visited as a sceptic yet I had an inkling that my imagination and physical experience of the place combined with my methodology of painting would encourage me to explore the divergent/hyphenated polemics that interest me. The subsequent and still evolving body of work has surprised me. The enquiry is absorbed in the contradictions that occur between the spiritual and the dispirited, a melancholy ‘place’ that is relieved with humour, laden with yearning. This has provided an opportunity to interrogate the painting process and artefacts produced; addressing values that extend beyond the self towards something less finite.