Artist David Tress has always used the landscape as inspiration for his work – but the Covid-19 pandemic forced him to remain close to home and rediscover his love of Pembrokeshire.
Born in London in the 1950s, David has lived in west Wales and north Pembrokeshire since 1976. Widely regarded as one of Britain’s most inventive landscape painters, his creations are not simple ‘snapshots’ of beautiful scenery; instead, they are expressive, visceral records of the feeling of being in those places.
Tress, who has always been fascinated by paintings, drawings and natural history, says: “Over many years my work has varied quite widely in subject matter – although landscapes are the core subject, they can be many different things, ranging from urban subjects to wide expanses of western moors and mountains, and from studies of individual trees and stones to broad expanses of sea and coastline.
“Even when painting churches, which have long fascinated me, I am often more interested in the relation of a church to its surroundings. Within this broad spread of subject matter, I often find myself returning to certain places and subjects. This is particularly true of the landscape of north Pembrokeshire where I have lived for nearly 50 years and which I paint repeatedly, never more so than over the last two or three years when lockdowns prevented travel - or at least made it considerably more difficult.
“As it turns out this has been a blessing as well as a difficulty. Every year I would normally make one or two drawing and painting trips to different parts of Britain, from the Outer Hebrides to the busier landscapes of southern England such as Wiltshire and Dorset. Because this has not been possible, for this show I have returned to the core subject of the landscape around me in Pembrokeshire, and have had a wonderful time rediscovering what I thought I already knew.”
Most of Tress’ paintings and drawings start from sketch book studies made in the landscape. Then, in the studio, he works using heavy water colour paper, first drawing and then laying in washes of colour.
He adds: “As the painting continues, I draw with more physical vigour using scored lines and torn edges, collaging in new pieces of paper. This sense of physical involvement in the developing work is something that I seem to find essential, paralleling the physicality of the experience of being in the landscape. As I create, I respond as much to memories of the place drawn, which I may have visited tens of times over many years, as to the actual sketch.”
Alongside Tress’ artwork will be ceramics from Hilary LaForce.
Hilary makes individual ceramic pieces, and also draws inspiration from the changing landscapes and eroding sea shores, and will be featuring her ‘Fragile Landscape’ range in this exhibition, which she hopes complements Tress’ paintings.
She says: “My work is very much inspired by landscape and coastlines. I love the coast and seashore in Cornwall, with the granite cliffs and rocks and azure seas (on a sunny day!) I grew up in East Anglia, where one also finds inspiring coastlines and estuaries.
“I use porcelain and white stoneware clays with crystalline and volcanic glazes. The porcelain appears fragile but is inherently very strong. The volcanic glazes are evocative of eroding rock formations.
“Crystalline glazes are reminiscent of crystals formed in nature and are created in ceramics using specific ingredients and complicated firing cycles.”