Archive for November, 2017

Flora McLachlin: A Moment out of Time

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Flora McLachlan studied at Brighton College before moving on to read English at Oxford University in 1994. In 1999, she took a Professional Development Diploma in Illustration at West Herts College, Watford and in January 2008 she was elected as an Associate Membership of the Royal Society of Painter-Printmakers (RE).

Flora’s paintings and etchings are records of things seen and imagined by twilight or moonglow, drawing inspiration from her studies of English literature, myth and legend, she tries to express a sense of the enchantment embedded in our ancient landscape. Her works have an unforgettable presence, infused with a haunting sense of poetry; carefully structured evoking a single charmed moment out of time, a magical vision that stills.

Flora’s preferred technique is etching. “I love its atmosphere, the deep mysterious blacks and the glowing whites. During the long etching process, my original idea changes, and grows, with the working of the metal. The act of creation continues with the printing of the image; many of my etchings are underprinted with a painterly mono-collagraph plate, and most are complex and demand a concentrated and meditative approach to the inking and printing. Painting cloudy washes of spit bite aquatint over the image then brings it to life, gives it weather, frees the waters. I want the image to look like a weathered relic from the distant past, briefly come alive for us to see. 

Her small paintings in watercolour provide respite from the intense and technical business of etching. She paints thorns and flowers, antlers sprouting leaves, foxes twined in honeysuckle, a unicorn in a holly enclosure…miniature illuminations inspired by the quests of medieval romance poetry – the idea of venturing forth into the wild world of trees and thorns, searching for a glimpse of the white hart.

Bill Bate & the human form

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Bill Bate was born in Liverpool in 1962 and is a graduate in Fine Art from the Central School of Art London (now known as Central Saint Martins). His work focuses on the human form. By the use of dramatic light his atmospheric works are emotional responses to the body in movement, at rest, and the body observed; he has always been inspired by the human figure and the effect light has upon it.

Bill has used a variety of methods to portray the body such as dance, swimming and also boxing, but it is the physicality of the form and the beauty of the athletic figure that drives him to paint. He usually has an idea of how he wants the painting to look, but in some pieces the original idea moves into something else and he leaves some of the older workings (the initial sketches and drawings) exposing the “structure” and “energy” behind the work.

I want the paint to have a life of its own and so leave its application quite loose at times. I endeavour to escape the confines that realism can impose, leaving more expression and less constraint.

Bill has been painting for a number of years and during that time has developed a striking and dramatic style which attempts to convey emotionally charged work using light and shadow as well as rich and contrasting colour. He works largely with oil and his particular characteristic is the nebulous smoky aurora surrounding striking life forms, which is enhanced only by his exquisite use of brush strokes. Early influences include the Italian Renascence period. He uses foreshortening, shadowing and detail to portray scenes that draw out the emotion of the viewer.

“I use a lot life drawing for reference but information and ideas come from all areas, films, books and magazines are all utilised to reinforce the imagery of the painting. Klimt, Bacon, Schiele, Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Waterhouse are some of the artists that I have studied and that have had a great influence on my work”.

Bill’s paintings are concerned with powerful opposites, creating potently atmospheric pieces that are emotionally charged. His use of colour and movement embodies the complexities and excitement, as well as the violence and tenderness of the human experience. The passionate and curiously spiritual aspect of his work lends great elegance and power, demanding instant response and later, gentle contemplation to fully appreciate the inherent beauty of his work.

Nathan Jones: landscape as stage

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Nathan Jones’ credits his artistic training as beginning sitting at the kitchen table and incessantly drawing with felt-tips as a five years old! His formal training started at Hastings College of Art with a BTEC Foundation course in Art & Design followed by a BA (Hons) in Fine Art: Painting at Cheltenham College of Higher Education (now the University of Gloucestershire) and in 2003, an MA at Wimbledon School of Art, again specialising in Painting.

Nathan Jones - The woods Of Daedalus - Hicks Gallery

Drawing influences from art history and theatre, Nathan partly sees the world through that historical prism “I’m interested in how those historical visual templates continue to influence the way we see the world, shaping our ideals and even aspirations.”  and his work closely engages with the world of the theatre – figures can be seen as actors, landscapes as a stage and objects as props. Having worked at The National Gallery for a number of years, his work developed under the influence of the old masters “it spurs you on if one day you’re looking at your paintings in the studio, and the next day it’s a Velazquez!“.

He then moved onto stage set painting which inspired variations on a theatrical theme; underlying these themes is a concern with notions of authenticity and the slippages between the real and fake. He has always been enchanted by the stage, the way things can be simultaneously real and fake, and how the audience can wilfully deceive themselves. In an era of ‘fake news’ and an overabundance of internet imagery, questioning what’s real and fake, and challenging our casual assumptions seems particularly relevant.

Nathan’s work uses the stage setting as a metaphor. “One of the things that I love about theatre is how this small stage is really a microcosm of the outside world – it holds a mirror up to ourselves. The same is true with my works: what is actually depicted is potentially just the starting point for the viewer to unravel over time.” Each work is imbued with an element of ambiguity and uncertainty, a complexity that keeps the viewer engaged “I think you’ll never get bored of a piece that continues to ask you questions and, on different days, different questions.” His aim is for the painting to slowly unravel in layers: “I unashamedly make very visual, beautiful paintings that hopefully succeed in drawing the viewer in, but the complex part is in orchestrating how that narrative gradually unfurls itself, which might lead the viewer to question some of their assumptions about nature, reality and even selfhood.”

Landscape stage sets are painted onto wooden panels “they are also the most detailed and illusionistic for which the flat surface is ideally suited” and the more painterly figures are cast onto canvas. Meanwhile his works on paper are looser and more experimental “some of these are also done at the end of a day’s painting, using up the paint left on the palette, and after painting all day you are usually pretty loose and might feel the need to do something bold and expressionistic. All three surfaces behave so differently and provide unique opportunities“.

As it develops, Nathan’s work is beginning to move towards becoming more evocative of dreamscapes. They certainly already have a dream-like quality, albeit depicting very real solid objects “I feel they could become more painterly and visually ambiguous which in some ways would match their already-ambiguous subject matter. I like the idea of combining loose painterly passages with highly detailed parts; the finished/unfinished combination is rather appealing and can better speak of memory and the passing of time.

GALLERY EDIT

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Featuring works from: Bill Bate, Bobbie Russon, Colin Taylor, Flora Mclachlan, Nathan Jones & Bruce McLean

For the winter season, Hicks Gallery brings together a distinctive edit of gallery artists in a mixed show celebrating artistic inspiration grounded in either the human form or the natural landscape…

 

Nathan Jones’ work closely engages with the world of the theatre – figures can be seen as actors, landscapes as a stage and objects as props. Underlying these theatrical themes is a concern with notions of authenticity and the slippages between the real and fake.

 

For as long as he can remember, Colin Taylor has been fascinated by ‘landscape’. Why it looks the way it does, how it is managed, used and abused, and in the context of his arts practice; how the landscape has been used to represent personal experience within a single visual image.

 

Bill Bate - Hopes and Fears - Hicks Gallery

Bill Bate’s work focuses on the human form. By the use of dramatic light his atmospheric works are emotional responses to the body in movement, at rest, and the body observed; he has always been inspired by the human figure and the effect light has upon it. He has used a variety of methods to portray the body such as dance, swimming and also boxing, but it is the physicality of the form and the beauty of the athletic figure that drives him to paint.

 

Etchings and paintings from Flora McLachlan evoke a single charmed moment out of time, a magical vision that stills. The scene is our ancient and enchanted landscape, roamed by guardian spirit-like animals, shadowed by woods where the holly springs green amongst the bare oaks and beeches.

 

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