Many autobiographical real-life places and objects appear in Gordon's work, sometimes just in suggested form or as half-remembered shadows. These elements are liable to mutate as the painting is created, and visual motifs come in and out of focus. We find elements of the post-industrialised Teesside landscape, plumes of smoke from factories or perhaps cigarettes, empty buildings, waterways man-made and other, birds and wildlife through to bare winter trees.
These motifs are often laced with the socio-economic baggage that any artist coming out of a working-class background would possess. The paintings were made to be cynical of the art world - they didn't ask to be liked - they asked whether the motifs contained within them are of any worth. Out of this painted cynicism and vitriol, we see an artist who is more internally critical; the cynicism is no longer outward-facing. We see someone who is working with a type of trepidation that comes out of building admiration for the function of painting, its importance and history.