Southampton City Art Gallery
It is an amazing feeling for an artist to be surrounded by their work. When the hanging space is Southampton City Art Gallery then you are entitled to feel a little overwhelmed and I confess that I am, as I sit here in the middle of Gallery 5 writing this blog. I have been preparing for my show for over a year; keeping paintings to one side once they are completed; arranging to borrow works that have already sold and worrying a fair bit about how everything might look on such important walls and in such prestigious company. I need not have worried. Thanks to curator Jess Whitfield and exhibitions officer Stuart Rodda who have hung the work and prepared the gallery space I am genuinely delighted with how they look.
This collection of paintings is a snapshot of the last 10 years – my passion for the Hampshire landscape largely driven by a german pointer who had an insatiable appetite for walks! Sadly Kito is no longer with us but I have a small sausage dog called Dexter who is equally enthusiastic and happier to sit still as I paint or sketch. He is not always so helpful in the studio!
Several of the 14 paintings on show at Southampton City Art Gallery were inspired by the Itchen Valley and the tracks around Easton, Martyr Worthy and Chilland. Others record the landscape seen from the train window on journeys to and from Waterloo, and the most recent explore the view from Farley Mount, one of my favourite places to walk. My early works are on canvas, but I have learnt to love aluminium as a surface to paint on. As well as making the colour ‘ping’, I can make the metal part of the work and many of the paintings will have drill or scratch marks that catch the light and are definitely deliberate!
One of the most exciting things about this show is that I shall be returning every week over the Summer to work on a new painting. The large canvas is part of an installation which explores the boundaries between video and painting. I spent several days filming across Southampton Water towards Fawley, capturing small boats and large ships as they travelled to and from Southampton docks. I am projecting this video onto a canvas and painting into the projection.
As I sit looking out of Gallery 6 I cannot help but notice the painting sitting just outside in the main hall. It is by Ivon Hitchens one of the artists who first inspired me to paint landscapes. If someone had told me as a fine art graduate 10 years ago that I would be showing work next to his I would never have believed them!