Artwork for Richard Gilbert
The Sacred Oak
The Stump, Breinton
Two trees, the Flits
The Quarry Oak, Croft
The Floods on the Lugg
I am interested in how landscape has been depicted in the past as well as the present. My 'hero' artists are all landscape painters and almost all are great painters of trees and the depiction of trees in British art has always been central to a national debate about who we are. Landscape in art is not just about depicting nature. From the Flemish 'world landscapes' to Venetian Renaissance pastoral visions, the Dutch 17th century 'landskips' though English Romantics and Neo-romantics to contemporary response, these evolving contexts for depicting landscape join together in a fascinating dialogue about many things. Today 'edgelands' - the shifting zone between urban and rural, have become part of that conversation. Edgelands from an artistic perspective introduces new categories as fit subject-matter for making pictures as our countryside is redrawn through the relentless force of progress as urban development and transport reshape our land. The chapter headings in Paul Farley and Michael Symmons Roberts book ‘Edgelands – journeys into England’s’ true wilderness’ offers a catalogue of potential subject matter for the landscape painter: paths, dens, containers, landfill, water, sewage, canals, bridges, masts, wasteland, ruins, woodlands, mines, power, pallets, retail, business, ranges, airports. Edgelands as a topic embraces not only land set to one side such as wasteland, but also Sites of Special Scientific Interest, traditional commons and any overlooked patch of ground. Part of my concern is in considering how other artists and writers have represented Herefordshire. For this, I have, over the years, followed in the footsteps of Bruce Chatwin’s ‘On the Black Hill’: the ‘Hatton Trail’, the Breinton Springs Circular walk. Recently my focus has been on exploring an overlooked pocket of Herefordshire during the course of a year, Stonewall Hill, which was depicted by the artist, Mary Rennall, when she lived at The Rodd.
‘To know fully even one field or one land is a lifetimes’ experience … a gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields – these areas much a man can fully experience.’ Patrick Kavanagh ‘The Parish and the Universe’
Landscape for me is based not just on the evolving contexts outlined above but on attempting to understand how a patch of land can be represented though colour and composition. Part of my project is the search for a specifically local palette of colour which varies through the seasons. Herefordshire has its own unique range of green indicative of a sense of place. I am drawn to green like no other colour, it offers as much variety as the world is wide. Each tint is not only an equation of form and mood but has qualities one can only describe as mystical. Greens are complex organic hues and places constantly re-invent green hues through the seasons due to nature’s relentless drive. Greens can have variable weight and density, they can reflect the climate, the soil, the weather or the colour of the sky. They can convey the whole arc from youth to old age. Some of my landscape work has set out in praise of, and hopefully is, a celebration of English green.
A landscape painter based in Herefordshire taking as subject matter not only localities in the landscapes of Herefordshire and the Borders, but also Great Britain's literary landscape.
My practice is based around painting and drawing. It has been supplemented by teaching, running workshops based on drawing trees and the Big Draw such as 'A Journey through Herefordshire' at Hereford Museum and Art Gallery in October 2019.
I studied for an MA at Chelsea School of Art and an MFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I have had solo exhibitions in Hereford, the Midlands and London and contributed towards group shows in the United Kingdom and Europe. I have work in public and private collections in the UK and abroad.
'Footsteps' An exploration of Britain's literary landscape. The Chapel Gallery, Bromyard. October 2018
'Common Ground' A journey into Herefordshire. Hereford Museum and and Art Gallery. September 2019