BEAT art trail 2022 @ OPEN Ealing arts centre
For this years art trail, I have created a series of oil paintings and watercolours that document this summer living and working in south west France.
It turned out to be the hottest summer on record and my work began to focus on the intense heat that built up throughout July and August. I painted at different times of the day and in different locations from the local villages and farmlands to the Atlantic coast of La Rochelle and île De Re, attempting to capture the heightened mood.
On the 12th July a major fire broke out in the pine forests of La Teste de la Buch just behind the beautiful Archachon basin where I had visited and camped on many occasions. As the fires raged, more that 16000 people had to be evacuated. I woke on the morning of the 15th July to embers floating in our village that lies over 200km west of the forest. Remembering painter Maggie Hambling describing how she only enjoyed painting the impossible, I thought that a forest fire would be a worthy challenge. Over the next month I set about creating this triptych.
The figure in the bottom canvas is a reference to Pieter Bruegel’s ‘Hunters in the Snow’ painting. It came from the embers bearing a sinister resemblance to snow, and my sense that we are still now like then at the mercy of seasonal change and powerful natural forces.
To cool off and counterbalance the heat, I visited the Vienne river many times both day and night. I was drawn to the lush greens and blues that this year seemed all the more vibrant. This series of 7 oils started as an attempt to preserve and celebrate that precious oasis.