"Ultimately, from a personal perspective, the art I create now derives from a sense of loss and the questions that surround what was once certain in my life. That may seem strange and not immediately apparent in the finished work.


 My very early influences in art were religious ones, Christian icons and the surrounding stories of the biblical characters which created a certainty about direction, honesty  and inclusion and there was always  added visual drama to the stories that excited me; snakes and Eden, David and Goliath, vivid crucifixions, gaping wounds  and rising from death. Every young boys dream. In later life the introduction of Hinduism and the influence of vivid images of Hindu deities, both serene and vicious, again dramatic and all-consuming created certain conflict in my belief system although the religious imagery itself was equally compelling, equally exciting and the religious system was again inclusive and honest. But somehow I'm now driven to explore both types of images to find whether part of me is lost in that conflict and question what makes up my identity. I recognise that, to others, that personal conflict  will not be apparent in the art itself but today the very presentation of a religious image introduces conflict of some sort, whether radical devotion and defiance  or sneering derision and that reaction also drives me to keep on throwing it  in your face. Society it seems is in conflict with itself about what it can, or is allowed to think and I want to force that discussion, that questioning uncertainty and not let society hide from it.


Alongside the religious work a series of life drawings in pen and ink reflect my loss of intimacy, a man's love of the female form, of shape, of touch, of connection that has become a distant memory with little prospect of reliving that feeling as I move closer to the grave. Some of that pain is reflected directly in the poses drawn, in others the sensuality or stark nature of the pose reflects back a longing for something I know has gone.


At a technical level, as a draughtsman, I recognise my limitations and set challenges rather than accept them. Overdrawing is one technique I've favoured recently, defiling a perfectly decent rendition of a subject with another image drawn on top to remove the precious nature of it and create fresh insight. As a second challenge I have deliberately chosen pen and ink to make an immediate permanent mark, no going back, imperfections in technique obvious for all to see. That has concentrated the line but not tightened the searching fluidity of the image achieving satisfying intentional and unintentional results."


- Andrew Shelley



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© Andrew Shelley