Natural Beauty

20 Jun 2020 – 22 Aug 2020

Regular hours

10:00 – 19:00

North House Gallery

Manningtree, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • Manningtree Railway Station is one hour from London Liverpool Street

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The inspiration for this exhibition was the 50th Anniversary of the Stour Valley and Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is presented as part of the River Stour Festival 2020, much of which has sadly had to be cancelled. However, the show must go on.


The artists were given a free rein to interpret the theme of Natural Beauty and were certainly not confined to images of Constable Country. Several painters do acknowledge a debt to Constable, but their own practice of painting en plein air has developed in quite different ways. Looking at the show as a whole there is quite a lot of sky, understandably in these locked down times, but some artists equally find beauty in erosion, decay and rust.

Norman Ackroyd, we may surmise why, has reprised in 2020 his celebration of rainbows, which often featured in his work in the 1970s.

Esmond Bingham’s new constructions are of bamboo and plywood, very different materials which express a joie de vivre derived from the pent up energy within.

Neil Bousfield’s Winter Sea series of relief prints illustrate the fragility of the landscape along the Norfolk coast with the terrifying beauty of the destructive waves.

Simon Carter, who admires Constable as a revolutionary landscape painter, has used familiar Constable paintings as starting points for improvisations of his own.

Luke Elwes’s ‘Waterline’ series, a recent body of work on paper, is centred on the fragile wilderness of salt flats and tidal marshlands of East Anglia.

Helengai Harbottle has produced a series of spare drawings in oilstick on primed panel, of trees both naked and in leaf: the essence of tree.

Fergus Hare acknowledges the early influence of Blake, Palmer, Constable and Gainsborough and in his own paintings masterfully creates a modern romantic idyll.

Melvyn King’s new paintings reflect the subject of coastal erosion. A group of five paintings starts with a fairly representational view of cliffs, each subsequent one more abstract.

Charlotte Knox is a painter of exactitude. Her close up observations of flowers and new watercolours of plants growing out of Irish rocks are incredibly skilled.

Ffiona Lewis exults in the beauty of wild flower meadows in Suffolk.

Jane Lewis uses landscape as a starting point for her fluid, calligraphic abstract paintings.

Lino Mannocci is showing for the first time two paintings (1735 and 1826) from his series “Archivio dei cieli”, quotations from mystery classic paintings.

Ruth Philo’s If Blue Could Be Happiness series, using pigments collected on her travels on stitched unstretched canvas and linen, explores the colour blue and its many associations.

Oliver Soskice in still life observes the space an object inhabits and in abstract painting based on landscape focuses more on the light than the suggested structural elements.

Dina Southwell has developed her painterly silkscreen monoprints to capture her memories of different landscapes in startling colour.

Jasper Startup’s sculpture relates to the natural through the material used or its subject matter. “Humanity is part of nature. I know this often leads to a strange beauty.”

Telfer Stokes makes austere sculpture in welded steel. He finds beauty in the scrap. Several new pieces include circles, a form both natural and beautiful.

Francis Tinsley goes to Kent for inspiration: he has painted the strange light light over the sea at Margate and made a print from wood found in the mud of Faversham Creek.

What to expect? Toggle

Exhibiting artists

Fergus Hare

Neil Bousfield

Norman Ackroyd CBE RA

Simon Carter

Helengai Harbottle

Esmond Bingham

Jane Lewis

Oliver Soskice

Charlotte Knox-Williams

Melvyn King

Luke Elwes

Ruth Philo

Ruth Philo

Lino Mannocci

Ffiona Lewis


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