Since my early teens, I’ve had two obsessions – art and film. I did a lot of drawing and painting and saw a lot of movies, and after high school toyed with the idea of studying film but decided on art school instead. I continually had ideas for films but painting took up all my time and energy.
Then came the digital age. I could take my video camera out on the streets and capture whatever caught my interest and edit it on my computer, without having to worry about the whole process, equipment and cost involved in edting 8mm or 16mm film.
We moved from London to a small village in Spain in 2005, and built a new house where, after 25 years of fantasizing about it, I finally had a large studio space of my own. In the spring of 2008, about six months after we moved in, I took a walk through the vineyards, and decided to do a small video on grape production while continuing to paint most of the time. Within a few months, it became a full-time, all-absorbing project, subsequently leading to more wine documentaries, and for a couple of years, I hardly went into the studio at all.
I initially enjoyed the change. The wine world has certain parallels with the art world, both as an art form and as a social structure, but in wine, I’m merely a visitor and neutral observer, and the goings-on, arguments, and rivalries don’t affect me. Wine, however, is a fascinating culture unlike any other I’ve come across, involving many strata and segments weaving a complex fabric, where dirty fingernails intermingle with manicured ones.
But although the documentaries have gone from strength to strength, there were the occasional, and increasingly frequent pangs about not painting. I love filming and I love editing, but it is a complex process involving travel, other people, technical problems, sound, and a thousand distractions. Painting itself has no distractions – it is about solitude, with the canvas as your mirror. At times, when I see an individual working the fields by himself in the midst of thousands of vines, I think that that must be a similar experience.
Over the last few months, I’ve been painting again, preparing for a show in early 2012 (details to be announced) that will include paintings of amphorae and vases once used to store wine and olive oil, and video installations about wine, uniting the three elements – paint, film and wine – under one roof.
And Luiz Alberto http://www.thewinehub.com and I are planning a trip to Italy in October to start film for a documentary looking at wine and art, again bringing the three together.
Below is a photo of three new paintings, still a long way to go. Older, but finished, works can be seen at – http://www.zrdesign.co.uk