After two years illustrating children’s books in London, Brian moved to Amsterdam where he continued to paint watercolours and expanded into painting on silk and making limited edition silkscreen works on paper and fabric. From Amsterdam he moved to the Scottish Borders and sketched the local Cistercian Abbeys, castles and the two earliest Christian monasteries in Britain on the islands of Iona and Lindisfarne.
Los Angeles was his next stop, and California was to become his home base for the next 25 years. After an initial period of designing stained glass windows there, he moved to settle in the peaceful foothills of Northern California, where he developed special techniques of painting large scale watercolours measuring up to one by two meters, focusing on still life and floral subjects. In addition to painting and extensive travelling, Brian also became curator for a small private museum with an outstanding collection of European paintings, sculpture and decorative arts, allowing him to closely study the works of several great old masters at first hand.
During a four year sojourn in Italy, he lived in Naples where the extraordinary quality of the light was a major revelation and inspiration for him. Through contact with several Italian artists and research at the University of Naples, he rediscovered some ancient early Renaissance techniques and added egg tempera and acrylics to his ever expanding repertoire. In addition to the easel paintings, he began a series of huge wall-
Then came the re-
Japanese screens of the Edo period provided an answer; to paint the subject on a background of pure gold. These contrasting mediums allow for a constantly changing relationship between the luminous and the opaque. After learning how to prepare and apply gold leaf, Brian developed a technique of applying a textured overlay to evoke the deepest essence of the subject. The result was the exceptional series named California Gold.
Later, while staying with his brother in Thailand, Brian was exposed to tropical vegetation and deeply saturated colour. This resulted in the Thai Gold series, which centred around orchids and exotic flowering trees.
Large scale works greatly increased when he moved back to California and was invited to design, build and paint stage sets for ballet, opera, and Greek and Renaissance plays. Painting backdrops up to thirty meters long by twelve meters high was an enormous challenge and a thrilling adventure.
Then while designing stage sets for two separate productions; a Sufi play based on Attar’s Conference of the Birds and the ballet the Pharaoh’s Daughter, Egypt and Sufism came to the fore, and a timely visit to Egypt ensued. After visiting the great pyramid and the mosque of Sultan Hassan on the first day, Brian realized he was on to something big. Immediately after the two productions were staged, he moved definitively to Egypt and came to settle in a village on the west bank of Luxor.
Since then Egypt has been the source of inspiration for Brian in his pursuit of artistic and spiritual quests. Working mainly in acrylic, he explores and investigates aspects all aspects of rural life in Upper Egypt, from the local farmers markets to the ancient sacred texts; from the natural beauty of the Nile valley to Sufi gatherings; from everyday utensils to the great mosques of Cairo.
‘Egyptian Gold’ was also a natural progression from the previous highly successful series on gold leaf, but with a different focus; dates or lotus, architecture and angels became the subjects, embedded in 24 carat gold. Although the subjects may seem mundane, digging just a little beneath the surface we uncover the fact that their symbolic properties are all mentioned with great respect and esteem in the sacred texts, thus they merit such a precious and dignified setting.
Brian’s most recent paintings reflect his present understanding of both the ancient Egyptian texts and the cosmological teachings of the great Sufi mystic Ibn Arabi. They focus on the Duat, which can be seen more as a state than a place, situated between heaven and hell in the cosmic hierarchy. Using vivid, saturated colours and often incorporating pure gold leaf these bold and often dramatic canvases delve into the profound sacred mysteries concealed within the Duat. Following the analogy of RA on his sacred bark, when our own bark (body) plunges into the depths of the unknown realm, we enter a vast ocean of uncharted waters filled with wondrous treasures yet also fraught with dangers. It is like diving for pearls, searching for that pearl of great price – the treasure to keep throughout eternity.
The latest development out of the Duat -
And the journey continues....