The Hawthorn doesn't appear like a typical tree, more an unstructured confusion of
thorns, blossom and branches, tangled up in every direction, and seemingly
impossible to draw. Andrew Gifford's first, minutely observed spring studies were to
form the start of a series of increasingly complex paintings of Hawthorns and
woodland made over the next three years and across every season.
In early 2020 Gifford began to paint within the woods themselves. Like the
Hawthorns, the coppiced woodlands he walked through shared the same
mesmerising, unstructured chaos. “I wanted to make paintings that immersed you in
the woods, where your senses could be overwhelmed by the confusion of branches
and brambles and sunlight. After the Hawthorns, the woods were a different
challenge – I had to find compositions that could work as paintings, but still felt
arbitrary”. Gifford returned most weeks to paint the same place. During the winter
months he painted silver birches in the late afternoon sun, but with lockdown and the
better spring weather, the woodland floor was transformed with fast-moving, dappled
sunlight lighting up clumps of bluebells, nettles and moss and creating new rhythms
of colour around the multiple stems of coppiced hornbeams, hazels and birch.
The paintings are brought together for an exhibition taking place in the Pavilion
Gallery at Cromwell Place, the newly opened gallery hub in South Kensington.
Cromwell Place is open to the public from Wednesday through Saturday 10am – 6pm, and 12pm - 4pm on Sundays. Tuesdays are reserved for invitation only visits.