Oil on canvas

651mm x 522mm

Private collection: L. Churchill

A while ago Judith and I went over to spend Christmas with friends of ours in L A. I had a purpose in mind, as part of the trip, to go into a place called Monument Valley. The geographical features of this area are very interesting and are formed through thousands of years of natural erosion by wind and water. Located in Utah, on Navajo land, Monument Valley was made famous by John Wayne in his early Westerns. There is a museum, at the nearby Goulding's Lodge where we stayed, which has photos and artefacts from those early black and white movies.

Places like these fascinate me because they have such vast and prehistoric qualities about them, and so we were up before the dawn in the high desert winter air to get the shots which form the basis of this painting.

The person who commissioned this painting is a long-term collector of my work. I recalled him telling me of a photo he had seen, of a painting which hung in a Sydney art gallery, and which for years had inspired him to get something similar done for himself. It was of a Phoenix rising and emerging from the clouds with the sun shining through from behind. I have always been interested in doing some surreal work, so I asked him if he would be interested in commissioning my own composition of the idea. Because the photo for the original inspiration had been mislaid at the time, I had not seen what this painting actually looked like and so painted mine both from the client's description and my own interpretation. In Mr. Churchill's own words he is "more than happy" with the result.

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