Trevor Southey
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Warriors | Red Cliff Floors - Keyenta | Christ the Teacher

A year ago last summer a most remarkable opportunity presented itself to me via a couple of dear friends and collectors Will and Elizabeth Cottam. They have built a home in the shadow of the great red cliffs near St. George in Utah. It is designed by William McMurrin, Office of Leslie A, Stoker A.I.A. with exquisite sensitivity to the landscape of the red rocks and the gray-green sagebrush, and tucked with great discretion into the side of the hill. There is a fine curve to the main structure, and a guest cottage and outbuildings to one side, giving a sense of enclosure around a long and gracious swimming pool.
Trevor Southey at work
Trevor at work

I was asked to paint the floors, 3,000 sq. feet of them. It was an unusual but inspired idea and a marvelous challenge. Floors they are and any painting on them had to permanently take that into account. So joined by four members of my family as assistants and Bill and his daughter, we went to work.

We first tackled the large open passages with the free painterly and textural approaches I always make in my easel paintings. Then using the seams in the concrete as a departure point; I began to play with geometrical aspects of the space. In one long curved hall we fell in love with the way the square windows played a series of rhythmic light forms onto the floor.

Tyler, my son-in-law, suggested we use them and we painted each a strong color reflecting the components of the prism. As the sun moves across the sky these forms are left behind, as a kind of echo, but once a day will match perfectly for a short period of days each year. Along the walls in this space I painted odd things from the surrounding desert, such as a small animal skull, a scorpion and a piece of driftwood. In other rooms I selected still-life forms suited to each environment delighting in sitting on the cool dark floor, having an almost meditative time when cramp or irritation with my inadequacies did not bring me back to reality. Would that all work could be this much fun.

It was a really glorious and liberating time, punctuated by a cooling swim each evening as the sun set, and a matchless bonding of family and friends united around a project which can only be described as unique and incredibly enriching.

View of the house
View of the house

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