A Landscape of Love

A Landscape of Love

21 – 28 SEPTEMBER 2019

AN EXHIBITION OF CONTEMPORARY ARTWORKS EXPLORING URBAN AND RURAL LANDSCAPES THAT EVOKE MEMORY

Crypt Gallery, 23 Church Street, Seaford, East Sussex, BN25 1HD – thecryptgallery.com

OPEN DAILY – 10AM TO 5PM

A Landscape of Love’ is an exhibition of Contemporary Fine Art created from December 2018 to September 2019.  The exhibition will be a fundraising event with all work for sale and profits going to Cancer Research and the Dorothy House Hospice. It is for my beautiful daughter Debby Van Dyk who sadly died of cancer in September 2018.

Debby, her husband and two young girls lived here in Seaford, East Sussex for nearly five years before moving to Wiltshire in 2015, when she was promoted to the role of Creative Director of Oak Furnitureland,  who are so kindly sponsoring this exhibition.  The first paintings are of the local area of Seven Sisters and Seaford’s Splash Point. I will be visiting places in the UK and abroad, painting landscapes, seascapes, cityscapes and chickens!

This is a taste of the exhibition, there will be over thirty original paintings plus high end prints, cards and lino prints. An exciting exhibition, not to be missed.

Cuckmere Cottages and Seven Sisters

Acrylic on Canvas – 60cm x 60cm

Cuckmere Cottages and the Seven Sisters lie a short distance along the beautiful coast from Seaford , an iconic view visited by people from all over the world. A place to reflect and remember.

My painting technique started with applying the paint for the cliffs with my hands, then using rags, fingers and brushes I build up layers to create the atmosphere of the Cuckmere, people on the beach and the cottages tucked onto the cliff edge surrounded by fauna and flora.

Splash Point, Seaford.

Acrylic on Canvas – 50cm x 50cm

Splash Point is the furthest end of the promenade at Seaford, East Sussex. It is a place that family and friends love, climbing down the chalk rocks onto the beach to play in the sea, taking lumps of chalk and writing on the iron groyne or concrete promenade and excitement at being able to climb the cliffs up to Seaford Head. Memories of those family times together.

This painting came together after spending some time at Splash Point when the sea was high and crashing into the rocks and beach. I loved splashing the white paint on to create the movement and energy of the waves.

Pagham Harbour and Selsey Beach

Acrylic on Canvas – 70cm x 50cm

Pagham Harbour and Selsey Beach lie on the West Sussex Coast a place of childhood family times. Lovely walks from Selsey to Pagham through the Nature Reserve to the Crab and Lobster pub for crab sandwiches.

I was a little taken aback when I visited Pagham Harbour as it was such a flat landscape in comparison to the cliffs I was used to painting. The hills of the downs sit on the horizon and the grasses and trees bend in the wind.

Chickens

Acrylic on board – 30cm x 30cm

Chickens, most amazing animals that have human characteristics! Ones that are the boss, ones that hold back, the greedy ones, the ones that walk backwards, the good layers, well I could go on. I remember Debby’s chickens. We all love chicken stories.

My first ever painting of an animal was a challenge, I spent time sketching our own chickens, finding it difficult to get proportions and movement. There was much painting over and going back to look at them in more detail before I felt confident in the finished paintings. The are awesome creatures and I think I will be doing more on chickens in the future!

Alpbach, Austria

Staying with friends of Debby’s for a few days the view from their house on the mountains is a bit awesome and filled me with a certain amount of trepidation to capture it on canvas (certainly different to the landscape of Seaford!) The memories shared with them gave me a look into the life Debby shared with them.

Oh my goodness, when I arrived in Austria and stood on the decking of the house I was full of trepidation, how on earth could I capture this awesome landscape. I only had a couple of days to sketch but loved having a completely different subject, I found the pallet knife a useful tool to express the blocks of snow and rock of the mountains.

Gipsy Hill, London

Acrylic on canvas – 30cm x 30cm

Vibrant, busy, traffic, people, movement, colour, lights, noise on Gipsy Hill, London. Memories of times with Debby when she lived on this street.

Well, now I have a cityscape landscape to work with and standing on the street I could sense the movement so when I started painting I used quick brush strokes. The other thing I did was not to use white in my mixing so the colours were pure and vibrant, leaving the canvas where I wanted white to show.

Glastonbury Stone Circle

Acrylic on canvas 50cm x 50cm

My journey to remember places and people took me to the Glastonbury Stone Circle on the Festival site. Twenty five years ago Debby and her three friends went to the festival, a special time for them as young students, we all met and went into the circle for a picnic and time to reflect and remember, much laughter and tears. I came away with the sense of enormous strength and stillness from the stones against the vulnerability and movement of the grasses and wild flowers surrounding them, and also a wonderful feeling of love and friendship.

This painting started with paint being applied with a pallet knife and then building up the moving part of the image with brushes, fingers, sticks and rags. There are three paintings from this landscape, they were painted fairly quickly and it is one of those things that I have no idea ‘where they came from’!

Magnolia

Acrylic on Canvas 1000cm x 1000cm

A most beautiful tree, vibrant in the spring giving joy and colour after winter. Debby often said she wanted a Magnolia in her garden, when she bought the house of her dreams in Melksham she planted one.

This is a large painting that I had painted last year, when I decided to paint Magnolia I knew I could work on this and move it on. There were already some Magnolia in the painting so I added more, removed other images I felt didn’t work and put more movement and energy into the work.

Innsbruck, Austria

Acrylic on board – 50cm x 50cm

Vibrant, colourful, busy old centre of the town – loved the mountain backdrop. The Van Dyk family spent time here having fun and visiting the Zoo, great memories for them. I sat in the square, sketching and taking video with children, families and students all around – my first painting with images of people !

I felt with this painting I needed to approach the buildings with blocks of colour, many layers using pallet knife and flat brush built up the street. The mountains also needed a block type application of paint with the contrast of the people and movement of the street. Splashes of paint used to create energy of a busy shopping area and then the more ‘detailed ‘ treatment of the church domes. I loved doing this painting it gave me a feeling of fun and excitement.

Seaford Beach Huts

Acrylic on Board – 50cm x 50cm

On a warm early summer’s day I took my sketch book down to the beach in Seaford and sat by the new beach huts. I remember so many happy times walking along the promenade, having ice cream at Frankie’s and sitting in the deck chairs. I loved observing the families, friends, dogs and cyclists enjoying time by the beach, the feeling of community, I love this place.

Following on from the painting of Innsbruck I found myself working in a similar way when having the landscape of beach huts. A promenade, people, fun, movement and energy. The cyclist was something I had quickly sketch and somehow it arrived in the painting !!!

Poppies in Debby’s Garden

Acrylic on canvas – 760cm x 760cm

Debby’s Sister Alice also lives in Seaford with her husband and family, soon after loosing her sister she was given an apple tree by a friend. Alice loves her garden and the tree was to be a planted as a memory of her sister, she cleared a part of the garden, building a path around it and planted the tree in the middle, it is her ‘Debby Garden’. In the summer Alice told me that the garden looked amazing as it had grown an abundance of self-seeded poppies around the tree which had a single apple . Alice asked if I would do a painting of this very personal landscape.

I love painting flora and fauna which gives me the opportunity to put layer on layer giving depth and interest. This painting is unusual in the way it evolved. After doing the sketches I felt I wanted to get on with the painting but did not have a blank canvas of the size I needed to work at but I did have a painting in the studio from a couple of years ago so decided to paint over it. As I started, laying paint over the top I felt this desire to use a dark colour and from there the poppies went on one by one giving them a vibrancy I had not expected. There are some glimpses of the underneath painting, working this way it can give a surprising’ ‘gift’ !

Plockton, Scotland

Acrylic on Canvas – 1000 cm x 1000 cm

Twenty five years ago, when Debby was an art student, the family and friends headed for Plockton in Scotland. It was a time of high emotions as it was the first time the six of us as a family spent a holiday together as we had only recently been reunited with Mark. Debby and her brother had a particular wonderful time getting to know each other and when he lost his sister it was the pictures taken in Scotland that he put up in his house as a memory. I knew it was a place I needed to go and I spent four days there, being quiet, remembering and reflecting. It is a magical and mystical place, the feeling which I hoped to capture.

Painting is a mystery sometimes, as it was with this painting. I had painted the landscape with harsh and dark mountains and a large fishing boat in the foreground. I came into the studio the next morning and took one look at the boat and said to myself ‘that must go’ ! My way of blocking out something I do not want is to cover it with white paint, so this is what I did and as I covered the boat I found myself, with a certain amount of energy and purpose, covering the whole of the painting. Now I had a canvas with little on it and wondering if I had done the right thing. Standing back the decision was made to wash off the paint. So outside under the hose I removed the white but as it had dried more in some places than others not all of it came off. Back on the easel I stood infront of it and thought, ‘I like that’! – it had a mystical and magical feel, right for what I wanted to express. With more marks being added to the foreground and the wonderful Island we sailed to being picked out again, the painting resolved itself.