In August 1979 the Sunday papers ran obituary articles for Lord Mountbatten, killed by an IRA bomb. One of these filled a double-page spread with an enlarged photograph of his campaign medals. I kept this image, intrigued by the idea that coloured ribbons were used as a visual language to represent places, dates, deeds, campaigns, rank, and our monarchy’s pageantry.

Large-scale multi-coloured paintings of strips, targets and patterns also resonate meaning through form. Making it possible to see a connection between the language of paintings with that of military service. One expresses meaning through coloured paint applied to canvas, the other through the weaving of ribbons.

Synaesthesia is a cognitive ability to perceive something, be it words, names or numbers, in another form. Some people connect a distinct smell to names, others see numbers or days of the week as a colour. The speed with which some people can answer a complex mathematical question is explained by their ability to picture each number as a separate entity and sums as threads of different-coloured beads. 

These ideas of mapping life, things and events by colour and pattern all tie together. I made a series of works based on medal bars, including a set to represent my life. In 2006 I was commissioned to produce a set of ‘life medals’ to celebrate the subject’s achievement of a PhD. I continue to explore threads and meaning. I have written an essay called Badges of Honour, or Weapons of Compromisewhich you can read at: and scroll down to Articles.

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A Quiet Pint with the Match
Time-Poor Dreamers
Limited Means, Nothing Fancy
The Admiral of the Fleet. Lord Mountbatten
Detail. Lord Mountbatten. US Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal 1941-1945
Lance Corporal J. Jones
Lieutenant Commander H.R.H. The Duke of York
Detail. The Duke of York
Captain Annand  D.L.I.
Detail. Captain Annand. D.L.I. Victoria Cross
2nd Lieutenant  P.D. Smithson R.E
General Sir Peter de la Billière
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