Artist Statements


Some notes on English Gothic

Gothic: Of the Type revived from the mid 18th – early 20th centuries. It connects to the tone and sensibility of the work.

The Sainsbury Wing. Some years ago I recall ducking late into the National Gallery out of the rain. I soaked up the atmosphere of the room with 18th-19th c paintings by Stubbs, Gainsborough, Turner and Constable. I was transfixed by the brooding storminess of Constable’s ‘Salisbury Cathedral from the Meadows’. A couple of years later in my studio and a blank unprimed canvas with nothing specific in mind for it, I  took the postcard I bought of the Constable painting and instinctively started a version of it. I added my own elements, painted a white van in, out, in, out, and eventually stuck a lot of mussel shells on it instead. A very knowledgeable painter told me that they used these shells to mix paints in plein-air painting of the period.

The Ford Escort Van. My father used to drive one in the 1980’s. I recall the excitement of it reversing up the drive on a Friday evening after working away for the week. When I went back to study art again in 2003-4, I recall walking past one on my way home. They were quite rare by then so I took a photograph. It soon crept into my work as a recurring motif. Early incarnations were quite surreal, with inferences to binoculars and a pig snout. I not actually that aesthetically taken by the vehicle, but I always look out for them.

Frank. I think about this character wading through a landscape, or paint scape; a surveyor of it, or moving through it but never reaching a destination.

The Stage. I use acrylic paint, a fast drying medium, perhaps oils would be better. One thing though, I connect with the type of approach to painting stage sets, fast and loose, but detail and perspective where needed. This in turn relates to broader aspects of my work including installation and performance with masked characters. Maybe the paintings could become backdrops for something else. Also the nature of collage used to create some the compositions for the larger paintings makes the figuration and architecture feel aranged like props and protagonists.

Hammer horror. I love my horror film and most of its sub genres. Hammer horrors from the late 1950’s to early 70’s are the most relevant to this body of work. I’m not aiming for horror in these paintings, but something of the melodrama perhaps. Terrance Fisher was the master director. His 50’s -60’s lush technicolor films and opulent set design are a painters tonic. Remastered DVD’s such as Brides of Dracula were a revelation from the faded washed out versions they used to show on TV pre digital age. They compete with the famously gorgeous design of Italian director Mario Bava and American Roger Corman’s Edgar Alan Poe adaptions from the period.

Under the bridge. My wife Nita is an artist, and researching for her community project about the derelict Chances Glass factory in Smethwick we did a number of canal walks there. Part of the route dramatically cuts under the M5. I took loads of photo’s and then I thought I’ve got to have some of this imagery in my painting. Since Birmingham has been brutally erasing an era of 20th century architecture in its city centre – a kind of architectural cleansing, I’ve become more attached and sentimental about it, whereas when I was younger, I quite detached from it, maybe even slightly fearful of it.

Paul Newman 10th January 2018




Paul Newman’s practice evolves from painting; merging with performance, film and photography, collage and installation.

Recurring references include 18th c English landscape painting, classic monsters of the movies such as The Fly and the Ford Escort van. His studio environment influences his imagery; peripheral residues that result from the creative process, such as daubing on the studio wall creep into the finished works. Newman explores the shifts and the relationships between his studio space and the public exhibition space.



Paul’s practice is an exploration of an internalised world through painting, performative installation and photography.  The importance of gesture, surface and the habitual intimacy of the studio space has seen the trimmings and debris from that environment increasingly creep into the imagery and work itself.

Paul’s work is at a cross roads, having moved through cycles of the figurative with imaginary characters, to imagined landscapes exploring a contradictory push pull of pictorial space and abstraction.  The work increasingly oscillates between these areas.

Occasional live performance works explore notions of stillness, repetition and unpredictability. The photographic works can be a document of these, but often the allusion to a performance is fabricated. They depict  the solitary figure set  against, or merging into their surroundings and are concerned with the potential of the photograph as a painting and vice versa.

Of increasing interest is the reference of a specific type of artist’s studio and the mannerisms, privacy and behaviour associated with it.  The notion of a type of squalor purveys, with the sensual tactility of a gestural mark and debris. Conscious not to throw away the residue from the painting process, Paul places equal importance upon it; now becoming part of the painting and the imagery within the work.




Timepiece. A Performance at Vaults Bazaar. Trove @ The Vaults, Jewelry Quarter March 2010

Time Piece is a performance by Paul Newman simulating the movement of a waiter clearing tables. The action is a metaphor for the mechanics of an analogue clock and is an association with ‘a slice of time’, both as shift work and as a durational performance for the length of a show.  The routine is relatively precarious as a rehearsed action with the potential for lapses in concentration due to distraction, boredom and fatigue, generating incident that can disrupt the mechanism of the clock. Its framework explores two components of performance; repetition and unpredictability.



Traveling in the Socorro deserts of New Mexico, an unidentified flying object drifts in to view. “Who’s there?” As this is a holiday destination especially favoured by visitors from other planets, the question seems relevant. However, it turns out that the visitor has only traveled a few thousand miles from the UK, rather than the light years others make to this particular location. But like the scientists and specialists of the extra terrestrial, this visitor is also in the desert to undertake research, to explore other dimensions of the various fictional characters that populate his work.

Paul Newman’s work (performance, painting and installation) involves quasi-human creatures finding themselves in discomforting scenarios. Interior anxieties are played out by placing these creatures (already bearing the evidence of psychological unrest) into an environment where their disquiet is amplified to the stuff of nightmares.

Diana Stephenson 2008



A portfolio of imaginary characters and situations is generated through an ongoing series of drawing, painting and performance based installation.

The characters themselves are hybrid creations influenced by dark fairy tales, classic horror and monster figures such as “The Fly”, as well as the outlandish creations in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and their contrary trappings within Lewis Carroll’s text and its illustrations.

The specific awkwardness of the painting is reinforced through the discordant clashing in the range of surface marks. Yet if the relationship between material and image could in fact be considered a degree arbitrary, there is also an integral connection here with the contrary nature of the work itself. The particular mannerism of the painting is also reflected through the development of the body of work through character performance and installation. Though perhaps stylistically different to the painting, these works and their re presentation as photographic documentation carry the same tone and poise.

The paintings, performances and photographic works explore both similarities and differences in a portrayal of a multiple characters, which could also be identified as a portrait of one.