When Dale Inglis arrived in London from Winnipeg in Canada in the 70s he joined that group of artists
who were occupying the derelict wharfs in Docklands. With a studio in Metropolitan Wharf on the banks of the River Thames he experienced daily its grandeur, its history and changing appearance and – not least - the sense of continuity it implied. And later, when he set up his studio on the south side, his fascination for the river and its bridges endured and the point where it flows by Cannon Street Station became a recurring motif in his work.
Some of the paintings are small; others are huge and often made of multiple panels with a repeating motif suggesting a concern for issues of memory and time. Indeed, one painting is an assemblage of sixteen views taken at different, but equally spaced, points across the bridge from the north to the south bank. Another has the ghost of a Muybridge movement sequence below subsequent layers of paint. Yet others suggest endlessly repeated journeys and endlessly repeated tides that offer glimpses of a shifting and elusive reality rather than any overt intention to offer an accurate representation of place.
But whatever interpretation we put to the pictures their technical ingenuity is undeniable. Inglis has developed a unique and idiosyncratic approach which involves building up his surfaces with a wide range of materials that include varnish, opaque paint, decorator’s paint, salvaged and recycled drawingsand sketches from life, fabrics and pages torn from books. Once finished and dried, the surfaces are then subjected to a process of destruction using paint remover, heat gun, blow torch, scrapers and sandpaper; a process that causes the paint to bubble, curl and shrivel and reveal a palimpsest with tantalising fragments of image and meaning. This surface may be modified further or it may need to be built up again and so the process of experiment and improvisation goes on until a final image is nurtured into life.
It is in this slow, patient and painstaking way that Dale Inglis’s paintings evolve; some taking more than ayear. He also has a large number of boards on the go at the same time, leaving them to reveal themselves between the spells of physical
working. They may stem from landscape
experience and contain landscape references but they are squarely in the mainstream of modernist abstract practice with roots in the work of Turner, Rothko and Tapies. And in this way Inglis finds a meeting of the external world and his own inner experiences where the underlying feeling is for what the poet T.S. Eliot has referred to as the timeless moment.