Time and Motion Study


                                            “…….. Rafferty has an abiding fascination for grids, divisions, compartments, frames, angles, layers, and lines; for the way these classic ways of organising and ordering a design can achieve an aesthetic harmony and beauty in their own right and a preoccupation with surface and depth – with substrata and the sedimentation of different levels”


“……..these surfaces do not seek to capture a moment in time, to freeze-frame it or fix it dead like a fly in amber; nor do they present themselves as a finished product, the end result of a project successfully completed. Rather, in demonstrating production as process, they seek to honour the experience of time as it is lived through”.


  “…….same issues resurface in other work, identifiable by its recognisably Japanese iconography and theme. In  pieces such as Beauty is only Shironurai, layers of semi-transparent, textured, Japanese paper overlap to produce – as in a traditional Japanese interior – a series of partially revealing, partially obscuring screens. Again, strips are overlaid and interwoven to create the impression of linings and facings, of windows and grilles. In the case of the larger paintings, the canvas itself has become another screen, images being projected onto the back and their outlines traced through, so that, once again, what we get is the after-effect – a result or trace rather than the artist’s conscious deliberations – and the image comes to us necessarily filtered, distanced and reversed”.

“Solemn and dignified are not adjectives that would immediately come to mind in describing his work. Nor is gravity applicable in the sense of something of extreme importance, although it certainly relates to the physical force that causes all of these paintings to look the way they do.   Superficially, many of these paintings look quite conventional, but Rafferty’s eye for colour and sensitivity to the associative possibilities of colour remove these works far from the constraints of conventionality. Many of  Rafferty’s paintings gently remind, revisit, suggest and introduce the manner in which the many aspects of colour can play on our eyes, perceptions and associations. The ironic and beguiling nature of the titles for some of these works, which seem to reveal as much as they conceal, is no better exemplified than in the beautiful colours of Wish you were Lovely.” illustrated on this screen


Quotes from various exhibition reviews by Prof. Catherine Bates of University of Warwick

Rafferty uses colour and form on canvas to convey the ideas of consciousness, logic and rationality. Through reflecting  on modern artistic practice Rafferty challenges the perception of colour and expresses its ambiguity to the eye. In the artist’s work, we find very precise-sized canvasses that relate to  previous works in proportion and ratio. The engaging elements come in a succession of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines of various thicknesses juxtaposed with varying colour values and hues  creating an illusion of space and depth.

The paintings allude to the third dimension whilst creating optical tension through  discord, ambiguity, familiarity and surprise. The relationship with the onlooker is dependent on how the viewer is positioned in the space before the canvas. The works resonate via projection onto the audience by generating a physical connection. The artist manipulates both the comfort of visual pleasure  and presentational reassurance  with elements that deviate from the safe and predictable. Complacency can rapidly evolve into uncertainty. The rhythmic elements and suggestions embedded within these works provide a temporal framework for the process of examination and questioning.                             

The switches of colour promote instability, exploited here to create rhythmic movement.  These works have neither obvious subject matter nor relationship to a recognisable figurative presence, yet mysteriously emit a warmth at odds with the cold abstraction of the means of production.






My art practice could best be described as eclectic. I do not subscribe to the tenet that pursuing just one particular route of development is the only means of endeavour. There exist many commonalities, shared perspectives and adaptable aesthetic and theoretical values applicable to most aspects of art production. I regard it as a challenge and an adventure to work within a variety of subjects, approaches and media whilst maintaining a consistency and a workable systematic and stylistic formula. Recent paintings exploiting the physicality and reaction of paints (Gravitas and Gravity Series) have been completed within the last few years. Within many of these paintings I set up situations where the paint is able to respond to gravity and the influences of material content.  Paint application is very rarely by brush; pouring, dripping, drizzling and flicking predominate. Masking tape polices the no-flow zones.

All of these paintings are carried out with commercial gloss paints. The consistency and fluidity of such paint render it the most suitable medium for the subject and content of these works. These pieces explore behaviour and consequence. Paint could be seen as a metaphor for some human traits, be they well mannered, wayward, cooperative, dysfunctional, discordant, harmonious, complementary, aggressive, biddable or demanding.

This can be perceived as the message of and within these works, or you can simply enjoy them for the visual and playful surprises and memory-jogs that the physical and subliminal content may contain.



Mick Rafferty has exhibited in several locations in the UK including three times at The University of Warwick, Coventry University, Upton House in Poole, Leamington Spa, Earlsdon, Huntingdon, Bristol, Banbury, Hoxton, 2008 Varenna; Italy, 2009 Malvern Theatre, 2010 Knapp Gallery Regents Park, 2011 Gallery150  Leamington Spa, Moreton in the Marsh,  2012 The Beetroot Tree Gallery Derbyshire, 2013 Portico Gallery Sevenoaks, 2015 Boundary Gallery Cardiff.


Education: 1972 Dip.A.D. Canterbury College of Art: 1990 Post Graduate Certificate of Education, Exeter University:  1998 Masters Degree in Fine Art, Coventry University.



I am occasionally asked the question how and why do you move between different styles and apparent subject matter?  How do you reconcile the inclusion of figurative elements in a piece of work that is essentially abstract? And how are you able to switch between for example the figurative Japanese influenced works and paintings which deal solely with colour relationships and have no narrative? The answer is quite simple; I encounter few differences with the disciplines, pictorial decisions and compositional requirements inherent in any visual piece. The same parameters apply to all my work regardless of subject matter or genre. I have acquired a visual reference data which guides and dictates that which I find acceptable; and that which resides outside my artist’s internal codes.

Where does the work come from? They are self-generating, the preparatory work, study and preparation resides in the experiences, results and outcomes of earlier work. I never was, never have been a collector of reference images, notes, sketches, preparatory work. I am more likely to stumble upon ideas when tidying up bits of cast-offs or driving past peeling advertising hoardings. Fading, peeling paintwork on old doors, crumbling plaster or decay always stimulates responses.  A simulacrum for the process of ageing, decay, repair, concealment and exposure, renaissance and death. This sounds very gloomy and grey, but there is a positive aspect inherent, revivication, emergence of the new, serendipity and surprise.

Also I confess to having a magpie-tendency. If I see an idea or a solution that could help to resolve a visual problem I’m dealing with, I will readily adopt and incorporate the discovery. It might be thought of as plagiaristic, I regard it as pragmatic and creative appropriation. There is effectively no originality, just different ways of handling a topic.

I do like to work in a vaguely experimental exploratory way. At the start of a piece of work I have a very open mind. I will have a hint, a direction derived from usually my last painting but I am easily distracted and diverted by what is occurring on the canvas. I am in a constant dialogue with this inanimate surface. Typical exchanges go along the lines of “that sort of red should not be there”, “the bottom right corner’s too busy”, “which way up now?”

I sometimes turn to Photoshop to experiment with colour changes, intensities and picture balance. 5 minutes in Photoshop can replace many hours of trial and error in the studio. The easy accessibility of all the digital changes produce results that you could never imagine, very clever but very obviously the result of computerized playing and not elegantly transferable to  canvas. I find the results arrived at via digital tampering too easy, obviously digital though I do find the results enlightening.

There is nothing new or original. The way an idea or a concept is used and manipulated may differ from earlier practices.

The methods I employ to create my paintings in many ways  reflect the way I  assimilate and react to my surroundings. Increasingly I am trying to broaden the  creative means that I place at my disposal. I find it stimulating and satisfying to find different ways of using paint. I occasionally  take risks, frequently the unexpected, an accident produces an unpredicted outcome. This part of the creative process is perhaps the most difficult whilst also the most productive, the business of selection and rejection; a series of “not yet”s and a “yes” at the end, to quote Gerhardt Richter.

Fiona Rae has written “it’s hard to avoid using colours that I like, but I do try to challenge my own taste and perceived  notions of tastefulness….what I like about painting is that it embodies a series of thought and feeling  processes. It’s all there on the canvas”, a visual trace of conclusions, influences and reactions;  “I can put something on the canvas, consider it, adjust it, remove it, replace it, add to it, conceal it, reveal it, destroy it and repair it”. I acknowledge her analysis of methodology.

The canvas becomes your personal world over which you enjoy total dominion, to create and destroy, to rule and to tease, to enjoy and to stress about. At the end of the process the aforementioned dialogues take place. Is that it then? Yes, I think I have resolved all the issues, relationships and connections contained within this painting, I have nothing further to add, nor to remove. Next.