“HOME : GROUND” is an apt name for this exhibition by four artists, Polly Cruse, Annie Hudson, Jane Sanger and Jos Wickham. The work of all four is unique, distinct and very much their personal home ground.
Annie Hudson and Jane Sanger are both landscape painters but there any similarity ends. The approach and the techniques used by each artist are very different, resulting in individual figurative styles. Both are drawn to the structural geology of landscape, particularly the hills and rocks of the wilder parts of the country.
Annie Hudson works in oil, pastel, charcoal and acrylic, often in combinations which produce exciting, dynamic paintings and drawings. The history of geological time evident in the rocks of the landscape are her raw material; she concentrates upon places like Scotland and Northern England where the folding and compression over millions of years is evident. Using this as a source, details are extracted and refined, utilising the underlying geometry to make the composition reflect her purpose. These works embody deep time and achieve timelessness and monumentality. An important early influence was the Yorkshire watercolours of John Sell Cotman who often used the same technique of isolating a particular group of rocks in a close study. The expressive qualities of her technique means that these works are never static but full of life and energy.
Jane Sanger explores similar subject matter with paintings of Yorkshire, Scotland, Norway, Cornwall and the Norfolk Coast all featuring in this exhibition. She is drawn to the splits, scars and textures of weathered rocks usually as a part of a contextual landscape. Using the divisions inherent within moorlands, coastal cliffs and the rocks themselves she makes paintings that contain these elements, but transcend them. The colour, texture and detail of mountain, cliff or rock are often contrasted with the infinity of an arc of sky. Her use of colour is sophisticated with the beautiful soft warm colours used in the rocks playing off the cool tones of the sky.
Using collage made from monoprints or textured rubbings of actual rock surfaces these paintings have a haunting, timeless quality with a stillness that matches the ageless nature of her subject.
The home ground 0f Polly Cruse and Jos Wickham is a very different one, their work being small, personal and focussed upon everyday objects that are then transformed into something quite magical.
Polly Cruse works through the medium of photography and sculpture. Still life arrangements are constructed from collected items creating images of beauty, narrative and gentle humour in order to re-evaluate objects that we keep, display in our homes, and then ignore.
Photography in colour and black and white is currently being extended into three dimensions by the making of objects in tissue paper papier mache. The fragility of these has led into an exploration of porcelain paper clay as a medium. The objects have a fragile, ghostly presence or resemble the cast off husks from which something has emerged. The resulting photographs and sculptures produce mysterious, haunting images, both embodying and alluding to hidden narratives. The personal and domestic become redefined and in the process, universal.
Jos Wickham’s medium is oil paint, creating small scale, unusually striking modern still life paintings from everyday household objects that in her hands, become transformed. No matter how small the work each painting becomes monumental. There is a reverence here for humble objects; eggcups, lemons, vases or bowls that become still life designs and compositions that could only be of this time.
Vibrant, unusual and often sensual colour combinations reinforce the graceful realism of her painting technique. For over twenty years drawing tangentially upon the history of still life painting from de Zurbaran and Sanchez Cotan through to contemporaries such as Wayne Thiebaud via William Nicholson, Jos has developed her unique style. She is now a master of her very individual technique and approach, with a remarkable ability to transmute base metal into gold.
HOME : GROUND brings together in one exhibition a rich and diverse display of painting, drawing, photography and sculpture, contrasting and complementing each other by turn. We see four artists at the top of their game, a virtuoso demonstration of why creativity matters and the stunning results it can produce in the right hands.
Martin Laurance. August 2020.