'Furrow', Ben Spiers

Portrait painting of a female figure with long red hair, red cheeks and tears

Oil on canvas, 61.5 x 62cm, 2005

Artist's statement

The character depicted in 'Furrow' is a hybrid of elements taken from existing images married with invented characteristics. An uncanny figure that suggests both an eighties pin-up and one of Velázquez’s more ugly princesses. The synthetic individual is uncomfortably particular but of no identifiable origin. Despite the subject’s apparent attempt to emote, the figure remains strangely placid. Tears linger frozen on the skin and become like the attributes of some long-forgotten saint, symbols in a system of signs we can no longer read.

The subject matter of 'Furrow' enabled me to combine several painterly ambitions: my hope was to combine highly detailed descriptive techniques with fluid brushwork, without losing the homogeneity of the image. I see the painter’s touch as being akin to the timbre of a singer’s voice. The equivalent requirement to being in tune for a painter is that whatever mark he or she makes, it must be embedded within the image like a scale on a fish. It is then down to the skill and vision of the artist how much play is extracted from each mark.


Ben Spiers was born in Plymouth in 1972. He studied at Falmouth School of Art and Design 1991-92 and Goldsmiths College London 1992-95. His exhibitions include Harry Pye’s Great British Art Show Stark Gallery London 1998, Please Disturb Me Great Eastern Hotel London 2000, Yesteryear Nowadays Hales Gallery London 2002, Upstart James Colman Gallery London 2003 and Homework C&G London 2005.