The Fishness Town
Fishness is a fictional town which is being painted into existence; half Hugh Town, half Stromness; a result of living in the Isles of Scilly and Orkney for ten years. Where is Fishness?
I grew up in Deptford, on the outlands of Londons, then docklands. My dad had a docks pass and he used to take me into the docklands where we would explore the comings and goings of looming ocean-going ships, the cargos, the secret landscapes and the people who made it work. Everything had a purpose, everything had a use and was used, and bared the scars of use. The more things were used, the more battered and shaped they became. There was a different kind of love in the docks.
Nothing was straight; no angle was factory perfect. The road walls were made from planks of concrete, the posts from concrete aggregate, they leaned backwards and lurched forwards. Railings held their history in their twisted forms. The pavements, bridges, buildings and cranes displayed their dents and marks with a matter of factness. Even the massive liners, on closer inspection, were nonchalant about the bruises they carried, gained in ports from all over the world. The seven continents of the world were in the docks, unloading their contents into the stomach of London.
Outside the docklands things were straight, or at least desperately trying to be straight. If a lamppost in Deptford High Street became bent for some reason, sooner or later a man from the council would come along and straighten it out. There seemed to be an atmosphere of relax in the docklands which was missing in the civilian world of high streets and shops.
I have always wanted to paint the world of London's docklands, but for me they are now only a childhood memory; they no longer exist. Anyway, my old man was painting dock scenes back in the fifties. They were the landscapes of his time.
'Fishness' is the landscape where I came to live; Hugh Town on The Isles of Scilly and Stromness, Orkney. The bits of land on the edge of the sea which have been shaped by use. They are what they are and they smell of unconscious truth. If the straight has evolved into the bent and twisted, it's because there is a reason and, in Fishness, the reason is allowed to speak its truth.