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Residency Painting 2

“A bit of advice, don’t copy nature too closely. Art is an abstraction; as you dream amid nature, extrapolate art from it, and concentrate on what you will create as a result”

Paul Gauguin

I’ve finally completed painting 2 of my WildEast residency. A second visit to Somerleyton and I ran the same route: from the Hall via Ashley Dell to Fritton Lake and back. I wanted to take photos of the Rhododendrons as I knew they would be in flower. The arable field margins on my way were resplendent with colour; a complete spectrum of different wildflower shapes and hues. I felt a real sense that sustainable farming was a priority here. The woods were so vibrant after such a damp Spring and early Summer; every possible hue of green could be found. Food for the soul indeed.

The lake was an oasis of calm and the Rhododendrons didn’t disappoint. What really grabbed my attention however was this view on the way home; Cow parsley growing on the edge of a paddock near Kitty’s Farm, containing a disgruntled coloured pony wearing a waist slimming grazing muzzle.

I LOVE Cow parsley! It grew successfully in every green space it could find in the Borough of South London I grew up in (alongside nettles by the way, but they were far less cool; and they were much more bitey). Seeing Cowparsley gave me a fix of nature in my suburban childhood, and that tiny fix of nature filled my batteries. You see although I was born in London, I made a decision (age 6) to escape to the Countryside as soon as I was able. Being a rural being was in my genes; a biological necessity. I am so grateful for every second of my adult life that I have been able to spend in the countryside, and being part of a rural working community.

My next painting is, therefore, of a nostalgic plant allowed to grow abundantly at Somerleyton. Not the cool insta-friendly Bluebells or Speedwell or Oxeye daisies or Vipers Bugloss or the ever popular Poppy; But a common weed allowed its place in the diverse habitat that WildEast is creating as part of its working landscape. I enjoyed every second it took to create this one. Painting on a large scale allows me to completely immerse myself in the landscape; to lose myself in my memory of the view, forget my reference and perspective and just paint the colours, shapes and textures I felt like.

As Gauguin said, I’m painting something organic. I don’t want to copy it. I want the wildness to shine through and give the viewer a snapshot not just of my view, but of my memory.

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