It was a long, wet and dreary winter and, thanks to the additional strains of our dire economic and political challenges - national and global – we can all be forgiven for seeking an escape now that the weather has improved.
Getting outside to appreciate our rural and urban landscapes is an obvious liberation for the soul – and the inspiration, therefore, for our second Summer 2023 exhibition, From Where I Stand.
The artists we've chosen like to work outside – en plein air – to soak up the atmosphere and the scenery and to portray it, in many different styles and from many viewpoints, physical and metaphorical.
We have on show representational, impressionistic and abstract forms of landscape. We have rural and urban. We have real and surreal. And we have numerous media too – all kinds of paint and print, plus ceramics, textiles and glass.
First off, did you know that the term "landscape" actually derives from the Dutch word landschap, which, originally, meant "region, tract of land" but acquired the artistic connotation, "a picture depicting scenery on land", in the early 1500s during the Northern Renaissance period?
Many of our artists don't strive to obtain a traditional, naturalist depiction but rather to develop a contemporary perspective. Take Caroline Chappell and Alison Vickery, two of our four regional Featured Artists, who are the stars of this show. Their abstract and semi-abstract work is about a sensory response. About light, colour and mood – in the sky and on land. About being in the landscape – and part of the landscape – as they paint and draw.
North Cotswold field patterns, hills and valleys, all in gorgeous teal, turquoise, amber and powder blue, play across the large and vibrant canvas creations of Caroline. Meanwhile, Alison's work is on a much smaller and quieter scale: “I work quickly, using proportionally large brushes to capture the fleeting moment, with the brush marks adding character. Working on brown paper with gouache allows me to paint on the light, which means it stands out – and yet it's still watercolour so I can still achieve subtle washes.”
Finding a release in countryside and coast takes on a very different form in the almost-photo-realist work of Hayden Price. He is drawn to stunning, windswept beaches and sun-drenched fields and sketches and paints in situ, before completing each work in the studio, based on his early studies. He's never trying to merely simulate a photograph – he wants you to see those tiny brush marks when you get up close, some of them made by brushes of a single strand that he makes himself.
Detail and narrative characterise the work of South Cotswold artist printmaker, Wendy Rhodes, who is our Artist in Residence this summer. With clever mark-making in her etching and amazing graphic skills in her graphite drawings, she depicts areas of farm land, near her home, that have been claimed back by nature after human incursion – such as holloways and ancient field tracks: “Every piece I create begins with drawing, exploring the structures and textures of footpaths, bridleways and beaches; tracking seasonal and environmental changes.”
She'll be hosting two presentations at the gallery - evening and daytime on 11 and 12 August – which are publicised on the Home and Exhibitions & Events page of this website. (Booking essential for the first one and places limited.) Please do come and immerse yourself in her world for an hour or so.
Gardens, clifftops, seaside scenes, townscapes, hillsides and mountains, rivers and canals, mystical fantasy lands and rolling pastures – they all feature in this exhibition. They are viewed, literally, from every possible angle and standpoint. Near, far, above, below and all round.
The common thread is a pleasure in what the artist sees and experiences and in their ability to convey it to us. Do come and explore their domains. It's a journey for the soul.