Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Well, what's it all about then Chris?

It has been mentioned on various social platforms' including my local, barbers, butchers and kennels' about my written explanation of 'why and what' my current exhibition is all about. I'm no scribe but just for you, here it is... 

Coast to Coast
From a personal perspective I am a lover of lifeʼs contrasts. It may well be loud music or serene, fast to slow, dark to light, the boldest of impasto colour to the most delicate touch of watercolor. It may well be soaring hills, winding valleys, raging sea or calm, quiet waters. However, it is the contrast of ʻtopographyʼ that has drawn me to my new body of work, ʻCoast to Coast.ʼ It is the East and West of England and Wales but more specifically the beautiful North Norfolk and Pembrokeshire coastlines.

Both locations lay either side of me here in Northamptonshire ʻin the middle of the Midlandsʼ... and like so many of us for years Iʼve hankered for the ʻlife next the sea.ʼ With no exceptions Iʼm overwhelmed by the effect of the coastline on my being. The huge skies, the quality of light, itʼs very air seems more refined, relaxed and of course reflective. Dreamy stuff it is for sure and as an artist I find it a healthy and inspirational environment. Living here ʻin the middle of the middleʼ creates a real sense of craving and appreciation of the coast. And here once again this flags up yet another contrast in me (maybe in you too...) of living ʻhereʼ and wishing and wanting to be ʻthere!ʼ

So it is these lovely locations on the fringes of our country that I tread upon to both relax and work. Steeped in industrial and maritime history of farming and fleet and scything winds cutting and carving the shoreline. Piling, pumping, raking, drilling, grazing, growing, mutating, flourishing are all adjectives that briefly annotate the yin yang and complicated matters of survival in these remotest of locations. It is of course the unfamiliar geography, flora and fauna that draws us to these destinations. Tourists travel in their millions to sample the delights of being ʻnext the sea.ʼ We all have differing ways of appreciating the salty air that is beguiling, memorable and generally relaxing.

My new body of work is a personal appreciation of the lay of the land. Drawn from time spent in these locations and enjoyed at various times of the year. As a visitor I get up early and play until late. Creatively the middle part of the day doesnʼt interest me too much. So the start and ends of the day highlight my atmospheric works. It is this passing of time and qualities of light that attract my eye. Weather too plays a considerable part in my appreciation of the shapes, colour and perspective. Clear bright, hopelessly optimistic cerulean blue skies donʼt really ʻdo itʼ for me but windy, rainy half light does! I find ʻatmosphereʼ very seductive and my new paintings are of places walked, considered and wallowed in. I will then sketch, reflect, make notes..... but my main form of information gathering is really ʻbeing thereʼ... experiencing and enjoying the ways of life and a the real sense of existence.

My paintings are not designed to be facsimiles of a location. They do however give a viewer a notion of where you are, a flavour of a destination or as I prefer to say ʻa sense of place.ʼ It is this ʻsense of placeʼ that is truly memorable on a visit and grabs my attention. Itʼs akin to breathing in, squinting your eyes, absorbing what you are hearing and ultimately ʻfeelingʼ.. Once Iʼm drawn in, the brain is seduced along with the eye, heart, extended arm, brush and paint. When the canvas has been kissed by colour ʻIʼm awayʼ and absorbed in my creative place with my memory as a guide. After time, shapes and colour appear and these works become places that are seemingly familiar to folk...and itʼs when people say to me, ʻChris, do you realise these paintings so remind of me of.... and isnʼt that... and surely itʼs???...ʼ maybe then my job is complete, Iʼve relayed the message, acquired that ʻsense of placeʼ and Iʼm a happy boy.


Chris Prout 
June 2014

My solo show Coast to Coast continues until 23 August... Cheers.

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