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In 2005 I began making small watercolour studies of the human skull. It was initially a daily practice to refocus my observation skills and to understand the internal architecture of the head to inform my work with portraiture. Working from a skull meant having a model that did not move or change or talk, and who was always in my studio when I wanted to work. It also deepened my understanding of the cyclical shifts in life, living, and dying, and of the transience and brevity of life. Every skull once belonged to an individual subject, and collectively, skulls are the most compelling objects. They are deeply recognisable, and yet abstract-specific, and yet anonymous.

They embody presence passed in the present.The images of the skull gradually shifted to mediums beyond watercolour – to oils, plaster reliefs, clay and bronze. They embody a range of different emotional qualities, but they are never ghoulish or images of danger and warning.