Biography - Paul Darby
I was born in Birmingham England in 1964 the eldest child of two and grew up outside of Birmingham. It was a happy childhood spent playing in woodlands living in my imagination. From an early age I was able to draw. My mother and father were both creative people, my mother was a hairdresser with a strong visual ability. My father was an officer in the 48th Ghurkha brigade who went on in later life to be a self employed engineer who designed precision tools and revolutionised presswork. It seemed whilst growing up that my parents enjoyed holidays by the sea. In the early days dad would pack the tent and cases on the roof-rack and in the trailer. In later years they brought a caravan and we used it as much as possible. It was born from these holidays that I not only developed my love of travelling but also my obsession with the English coast and the expanse of the sea. As a child I would stare out to sea and observe changing cloud forms and feel the urge to express them.
I have never stopped drawing from when I was a child and carried this on through to Art College. Whilst at Art College, my family moved out to Kingston Jamaica West Indies where I was to join them two years later. It was their where I experienced powerful bright colours in a land of contrast. It was during this period in the 1980s which was a time of political unrest and uncertainty and regarded as the gun and death capital of the world as the two warring political parties continued. After a series of hold-ups that I experienced it became evident that I had to leave the country and head back to England. Back in England I continued to paint and draw. I financially supported myself by working in a car factory. This was arduous work in which I worked all through the night in the factory and would paint in the day leaving me with very little sleep. Whilst feeling trapped in the factory I longed to travel to distant lands and a place I was drawn to was Nepal and Tibet. I had often read about it through books such as "Seven Years in Tibet by Hienrich Harrier". As a result of this reading and yearning to explore I felt it was now the right time to explore travel to paint and photograph.
I embarked on a two month trek across the roof of the world which resulted in many sketches and photographs. This trek was to result in more frequent returns to the Himalayas, which gave me inspiration to paint mountains, people and pilgrims along the way. My photographs were later to form a book "The Himalayan Connection". This book was the visual experience as far as possible for me at that present time to give a personal account of my visual experiences. It was not an ordinary journey but something that went beyond the fixed aim or limited purpose of a trip. It was not only about physical movement across the Himalayas but the inward to outer journey that carried its own momentum and form of inner growth.
Throughout 1994 I continued to travel through Tibet as well as parts of Nepal and Northern India where thousands of Tibetan refugees now reside. I began photographing and talking to them in an effort to understand what had happened to their country and culture. These people were deeply spiritual humans struggling just to survive in the midst of tremendous aggression they constantly experienced. From the journey to Nepal and Tibet across the Himalayas I amassed many paintings and completed many sketch books. I found the journey tough and the effort required is was powerful as the place itself. However, the memories remain strong that secretly pigmented my own mandala and adding creativity to my daily life. The stunning perfection of the landscape and the people was beyond compare and gave added impetus to my goals that was later to impact on my own life path. After my travels I grew restless back in the Midlands UK and moved to Cornwall to be near the sea and rugged terrain. Much of my art work around this time was in mixed media and was an expression of the simple pleasures obtained from observing the natural world. My main focus whilst in Cornwall was the land and its ever shifting moods of light and the deep sense of mystery surrounding those ancient timeless tracts of lands. Also its coastal extremities of where I lived in isolation . I supported myself by working on a farm and continued to further develop my art. I came in contact with such artists as Jack Pender in Mousehole and Terry Frost who I often saw and talked to whilst observing the sea at Penzance. I continued to paint and observe nature whilst in Cornwall whilst working on a farm.
Having been a painter for many years has made me realise one goes through a series of creative phases linked to where you are in your own life 's journey. I constantly find myself sourcing images, taking photographs and scribbling down ideas that I may use that day or in years to come. In addition to this I use a digital camera like a sketch book and take photos of the everyday using fresh eyes. Nevertheless, I believe that inspiration comes from within as this always 'kicks' in as I see ideas to create paintings taken either from natural or socially constructed images of everyday life. Added to this is constantly moving skies and landscapes. I find the pictorial experiences exciting, endless and enables my creative thoughts to come alive in my art work.
I do not follow any set regime to paint, images of light, colour and form. In general paintings and images are running through my head all the time, I am always looking and re-examining what I see and how I see it. I constantly paint throughout the day and often well into the night.
I draw and paint in different ways sometimes I sketch out the basic composition using a sketch book as i did in Nepal,where I also note down ideas or colours that stimulate paintings. Once I begin the painting I work as if I am building a jigsaw puzzle. Over the following days the image takes shape. When completed I like to live with the image for a day or two in case I want to make changes. When totally satisfied I sign the painting. Other times I paint involve more preparation, which can include a large amount of research photos and sketches. However the final canvass is painted instinctively guided by my intuition that stem from deep emotions i feel at that given time. My art can be tangible and i hope it is a universal expression of the human spirit.