The new body of work created for this exhibition focuses on the crisis currently facing British trees. A ‘perfect storm’ of various pathogens and changing weather patterns threatens Britain’s woodland, and has the potential to alter our landscape as dramatically as the arrival of Dutch Elm disease did in the 1960s.
Perry’s work is seductive in its drama, detail and skilled manipulation of paint. The works nostalgically echo the Ladybird book illustrations of the 1960s in their feeling of affectionate illustration. However, these apparently benign paintings leave the viewer wondering about the greater environmental implications of disease and decay in our landscape. Perry’s attempt to make ‘attractive’ paintings of an arboreal crisis takes inspiration from Henry Tonks’ beautiful but horrific watercolour studies of soldiers disfigured during the First World War.
Perry’s interest in British landscape has led him to be featured in BBC documentaries on the legacy of both John Constable and Paul Nash. His painting ‘Shed 54 and Rhubarb’ 2007, in the Museum of London Collection, shows a doomed allotment shed on the site of London 2012 Olympics, yet is painted with a fidelity reminiscent of a Rogier van de Weyden altarpiece.
This exhibition represents the continuation of Perry’s remarkable research and body of work.