Inspired by Pre-history

In October 2011 Viv and I visited the pre-historic caves near Les Eyzies in the Dordogne and were totally amazed at the humanity and sophistication of work up to 37,000 years old. This set off a new series of work for me about my experience of seeing and interacting with these ancient images and my empathy as an artist with those who saw them as I do now! We have been back many times since researching this phenomenal art.

The Pre-historic art hit me with a force which took me utterly by surprise. It is not only amazing visually but often has great sophistication, integrity and skill. The huge 30 foot ceiling in Rouffignac cave, the painting in Font de Gaume, the incised drawings of Combarelles, the 30 foot frieze of carved horses at Cap Blanc and the masses of mobile art – decorated tools, propulsars and small goddesses…. The art was produced by Homo Sapiens, people just like us – they thought like us, felt like us, perceived like us and had a huge command of artistic skills and judgements. The Rouffignac ceiling makes me cry on every visit because time collapses and I am the artist – 15,000 years are as nothing….

Although one cannot take photographs in the caves, happily one is allowed to draw discretely and I have filled several small sketchbooks in situ, sometimes overlaying drawings on each other because the light is so low. But drawing helps me to see and these precious scribbles take me back to ‘being there’ and form the jumping-off point for my studio work. The different caves and shelters have very different art and atmospheres and it is the feelings I get from them that my studio work attempts to explore and manifest.

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