The coastal marshes of Essex are disappearing rapidly, with up to 60 per cent having been eroded by the sea in the last 20 years. There is no-one better positioned to recognise these changes in the landscape than resident artist Simon Carter who has been recording this part of the British coastline his entire life. Messum’s July exhibition of his latest work, which is accompanied by a catalogue and short film, explore the rich diversity and changing face of the the stretch from Clacton to The Naze and turning inland, to the backwaters of Hamford Water and the area around Beaumont Quay, just beyond Landermere.
The clear waters and grasslands combine to create a secluded coastal landscape which has captured the imaginations of writers, artists, and film directors alike. Here Eduardo Paolozzi and Nigel Henderson worked on many of their early collaborations in the mid1950s as Hammer Prints, and more recently, the painter Luke Elwes has used Landermere as a base for his abstracted meditations on water and reflections. It’s an intriguing area of islands and inlets, of salt marshes and mudflats, of beaches, marsh grasslands and creeks and yet this land is quickly disappearing as sea levels rise.
Each day Simon Carter makes drawings about things happening in the landscape; often returning to the same places for months at a time, sometimes just walking and seeing what happens. He uses these drawings in the studio to improvise and rehearse possible ways to turn observation into painting.