Opening 8pm Friday 4th November
Exhibition runs until Saturday 3rd December
“My work has always been about exploring the spirit of the landscape. I am fascinated by what makes a place a place and at the same time different from many other seemingly similar locations. The work in this exhibition are explorations of three places, Lahinch strand, Anse Mejan (Toulon, France) and Hungshan (China)
The coding of the colours and marks which make up the paintings and drawings in this exhibition were formatted during a visit to Huangshan, (the Yellow Mountain) in eastern China. This is where the ‘Shanshui’ (mountain and water) style of painting was born in the mid-16th century. This is a majestic dreamy landscape usually high above the cloud line where many Buddhist temples were once sited. I was particularly intrigued by the way thick mists cloaked weird abstract chunks of pine covered granite, intermittently revealing then concealing the extraordinary secretive compositions and by the giant ancient rock inscriptions which appear every now and then along the many walking trails. These were put here by monks and poets as meditational insights, both for themselves and travellers to this unique place. The calligraphy did not impose on the environment, but seemed perfectly in harmony with their surroundings. I made a number of drawings and took many photographs but could not figure out how to respond to Huangshan’s spirit. Thus these new works are far more abstract than my output has been for a long time, as were the large outcrops of granite, surface dressed with huge red and yellow calligraphic poems. I felt that a literal visual response to Lahinch Strand and Anse Mejan was inadequate to clearly assess and promulgate my understanding of these locations, so I decided to follow the example of the ancient monks and literally ‘draw’ on the landscape, the marks simultaneously suggesting recognisable forms and being wholly individual elements themselves. I could not read the language of the ancient texts, so the abstract marks I have used try to echo the mystery of the long ago authors. Thus the drawn shapes, washes, marks and forms hold and emit real and emotional spiritual memories, similar to the way the fogs and texts of Huangshan suggest the past, present and future.
All the drawings are Conte crayon, Gouache and watercolour on paper. The paintings are oil on linen, dating from 2015 – 2016.”