‘Silent Spaces’ is a series of mixed media landscapes inspired by the chalk uplands, wooded hillsides and secluded valleys of the Chiltern Hills. I use my physical and emotional experiences of this area to capture within these works the essence of the landscape, its enduring mass, transient atmospherics and ephemeral qualities of light, as well as to express my own meditative thoughts, personal memories and those subconscious responses that I inevitably take from having been there. Integral to these works are ideas of the ancient, the mythic, the residual, permanence versus impermanence, decay and renaissance. Solitude and exposure are intrinsic conceptual strands within many pieces.
Creating these landscapes is instinctive and intuitive, a direct, visceral engagement. Through a process of mark-making, sedimentation of material, textural surface layering and precisely modulated monochromes, I interpret the fundamentals of the topography, in particular revealing its underlying, elemental nature: ancient, primitive, immoveable, timeless, unforgiving. I deliberately use modest materials; a fusion of graphite, pencil, acrylics, gouache, chalk and soluble crayon on paper. My colour palette consists mostly of organic, neutral, desaturated and ‘unpretty’ pigments, which consciously de-romanticise the finished pieces. When I work materials into the paper, the surface sometimes degrades and scuffs, adding to the texture and immediacy of the work. I like the feeling of the unprecious and the worn. There is an almost casual rawness in the fact that the paper has to survive the creative process. Sometimes it doesn't. If it does, then, like the landscape, it carries a little of the physical history of its making within itself. I hope these predominantly small, intimate and self-contained landscape compositions invite contemplation and reward prolonged examination and deeper engagement.
Nicholas Herbert (b.1955) is a mixed media artist and designer currently living and working in St Albans, England. From 1974-1978, He studied at the Central School of Art & Design, London, and at the Bath Academy of Art & Design, where he graduated with a first class honours degree in visual communication. During his professional career he has worked across a variety of creative and artistic disciplines, leading to valuable cross-fertilisation and interaction from one area of artistic activity to another. In 1995, he moved to the southern Lakes to pursue an exclusively fine art practice. During this time he made both large-scale paintings on canvas and small landscapes, showing at many galleries in the North of England and participating in a number of Opens, including the University Gallery Newcastle upon Tyne, Middlesbrough Municipal Art Gallery, Castlegate House Gallery, the Coach House Gallery at Brantwood House and the Lyth Gallery. In 1997, he was commissioned to make two series of large works in the Channel Islands. Many of his pieces, including hand-made books of drawings and landscapes, are held in private collections in the UK. Since 2012 he has been developing a new body of work called ’Silent Spaces’. This is a series of small intimate mixed media landscapes on paper informed by his personal experience of the chalk uplands of the Chiltern Hills and combining his interests in the natural landscape, visual mark-making and history.