Breaking the Mould
Artist Max Hague describes how an industrial residency opened his eyes to a new way of working.
Towards the end of the last century, I was feeling an urgent need to take stock of my life and seek out a new and different path in regard to living a gentler and less interventionist lifestyle. Coincidentally, and with almost perfect timing, an opportunity presented itself that took me away from my home into a large cosmopolitan city. I was unaware that I was entering a truly transformative period that would propel me into a dynamic and life-changing way of working.
In 1999, I was invited to take part in an experimental residency with HMG Paints, a specialist paint company in my home city of Manchester. While I was there, a radical transformation took place in my working practice.
The time I spent in the colour laboratory was particularly fascinating: I learned many things about paint manufacture and the science of coloured energy. The sheer beauty of the materials and the versatile way in which the pigments interacted guided my experiments into new and exciting painterly applications. Doors were opening up, and images of great power were gifted to me in abundance. It did not take long for me to realise that my work had entered a seminal period, and that there could be no return to expressing my own personal agenda.
I no longer expect or attempt to control or impose myself on the work, but instead experience a flowing participation of trust, faith and willing compliance with the creative process.
Works grow freely, and form and colour self-regulate, creating a pure and unified field of pictorial beauty within an inevitable and natural compositional structure. Invariably the experience connects me to a vast and unifying reality within the natural scheme of things.
Often the images resemble satellite photos of the planet, and on occasion pictures emerge that have an almost prophetic connection to the natural climatic events that cause massive destruction in our world.
Two examples spring to mind. Months before the devastating tsunami that struck in 2003, pictures of huge wave formations, as seen from space, had been created in my workshop. More recently, images of raging forest fires have been produced – just a few months before the outbreak of the fires in Australia. Yes, it could be purely coincidental, but increasingly this development is taking place.
A scientific friend recently remarked that the images that come through are all taking place somewhere in the world!
The evidence before me leads me to believe that my own tiny universe has been transcended by a far greater and more dynamic one, and my work refers to this reality. I have invented a radical new way of painting that, strange as it may sound, has resulted in my making paintings that I cannot make!