For about a year I have been making small paintings from memory, of specific places I have been.

Actually, in the summer of 2012, in the months before my mother died, I made 12 small paintings of locations I knew intimately. I did not know at the time that she was going to die, but the end of that summer marked the end of childhood and made these paintings important to me. They depicted places I’d played with friends over the years and knew with the intimacy only children can have for such small, in-between places (see Bubbling Tom).

They included some woods near the house I was born in, a strange monument to a dead horse at the top of a hill my friends and I would cycle up to in the summer, the fence at a quiet crossroads where, as a teenager, I walked with my best friend, who I had some confused romantic feelings about, at 3am. A concrete bridge over the canal behind my Dad’s house, where you could sit for a long time and not see anybody else. A row of three enormous oak trees in the centre of a big field on the other side of the road we lived on. A tree which happened to have some low branches ascending like a ladder, that my best friend and I climbed every day of the Easter holidays when we were 11. Another tree which all the local children used to climb, on the recreation ground, until the grown ups cut off the lower branches. The small farm up the road from our house where you could pick your own strawberries and buy potatoes from a roadside hut. The oak tree that was the emblem of the local school. The back garden of the farmhouse that we were allowed to live in because of my Dad’s farm job, where I saw a rabbit bound across the grass. I painted two views of this one: one from a distance, and one close up.

There is something heterotopia-like about these places - crossroads, bridges, crumbling bits of rural-suburban infrastructure - despite their lack of human activity. Only children can make places like these into whole worlds. I’m reminded in a way of Carol Rhodes’ paintings, though her childhood was more exciting than mine, as the daughter of missionaries in India. She took aerial photographs from light airplanes, and made paintings of the vacant industrial landscapes and vein-like structures of development. Her landscapes could be anywhere on earth, nowhere-places serving a society which is not supposed to see them like this.

My first memory paintings were done long enough ago that I’d forgotten about them when I started making some ‘memory paintings’ in the autumn of 2018, of things I had seen in my time so far in Norway. Mostly mountains, indistinct vague shapes, in different colours. It was the colours I was focussed on. I would go outside and be so struck by the colour of the hills surrounding the city or the clouds or the trees that I’d go into the studio the next morning and want to get down those colours before they left my mind. Over time I developed another small series of memory paintings, reaching further back, trying to depict landscapes from England, things I remembered from growing up. As the two series have developed in parallel, cycling through the seasons and weather, I can see more and more clearly the particular colours that seem attached to each place. Bergen has these dusky blues, pinks, rich green, limey yellow and golden orange. The memories from home have straw-yellow, a murky green, bright blue, cold white and peaty brown.