I have made the stretcher frames exactly the right size that I can get my hand under the bottom stretcher and over the top one and, using my entire maxed-out armspan, lift a painting off the wall. I lower it onto my foot and from there onto the floor as gently as possible, walk round it and then carry it, with one hand under the top stretcher. Except this one, which is a few inches too tall. The only way to get it off the wall by myself is to wait until the middle is touch-dry, so I can slip both hands under the bottom and take it off the wall with the canvas tipped onto me. It is not an ideal way to handle a large and very heavy painting.

I am ostensibly making paintings about the landscape, about the UK, etc. Often, however, I think that this is just a scheme to make sure the paintings are connected to the world beyond themselves. The important thing is that the painting should be speaking about something, should have substance - not what that substance is. I suppose that this scheme contradicts itself, really. And the other side of it, the reason it doesn’t matter all that much what the substance of the painting is, is that the idea of a painting’s ability to be about something is my primary interest. By that I mean its ability to be an image as well as an object, to be bound by its materiality and simultaneously transcend it (as an assemblage of signs and references), constantly exploding outward and collapsing inward, back and forth forever.

At exactly 10pm each night the lights automatically switch off, so as of 30 seconds ago I am looking at the biggest painting in semi-darkness. It’s densely packed: five figures, but also a lot of foliage and several buildings, a tilted flagpole, brightly coloured buoys, a fire and some blue ropes. By many people’s standards I’m sure it’s painted in quite a basic way, minimal detail given to the figures, and the natural elements are done in this post-impressionist/Scottish-colourist inspired fashion, blocky shapes and exaggerated colour.

I was never entirely sure about the composition when I got started painting, and quite quickly decided to get rid of a river with a heavy stone bridge across it, a kayaker underneath, a little boy fishing AND and a man in speedos diving off it. I replaced it with three ‘hop oasts’ - the buildings in which hops were dried after being picked by seasonal workers, up until the 1980s. They are truly bizarre looking buildings. There’s something a little sinister about them, in fact, with their thick walls, pointed red roofs and white caps which rotate in the wind. They certainly have the hauntological folk aesthetic which I’ve noticed is popular with artists back at home lately. It’s a bit of a regressive fascination, maybe. A retreat into folklore as a denial of the present? I certainly see it as a part of this crisis-toned search for authenticity in England, and even a tiny bit indulgent. But this is what I’m struggling with, too. Looking at the past to understand the future, not to escape from the present.

In the painting with the buoys there’s a lot of yellow and blue. I’ve tried to have some interesting things happen tonally with the blue, slipping into green and red, in places the colour changes hue but stays in the same tonal key, so in low light it will start to merge in the eye. Even in good light the super-saturated pigment can be overwhelming and it can be hard to distinguish colours, so I think you get the feeling of twilight, or an indeterminate gloomy time of day. The people are wearing summer clothes, so it must either be late evening, or just before a thunderstorm, for it to be this dark and for them to be outdoors. The man on the left has his hands cupped around his eyes, to see - he is looking in the direction of the main light source - and he might be trying to spot something or he might be trying to shout something - a warning perhaps. There’s a sickly foreboding in the yellow which flecks the central group and the fishing hut and is also draped across the top of the painting as the sky. The greenery is lush despite it, but this is the lascivious lushness of decadent excess: a sort of fin-de-siecle languorousness. Weeds growing out-of-control over an ageing image of Englishness. And a fire bursts out of the middle.