Artists Maggie Banks, Keith Foster, Claire Lovell and Lee Wright join forces for an exhibition at Y Galeri, Caerphilly. Several of them share a passion for landscape painting and the only way for them is to get out there whatever the weather and experience it directly, often working in sub zero conditions and in winds of up to 60mph. The show is supported by a profile of work by artist Louise Collis who shares the same philosophy.
Since 2012 Maggie Banks has worked en plein air using a tent as a mobile studio. She cannot resist the lure of the wild and varied region of mountains and moorland from the many vantage points from the blue line of Offa’s Dyke stretching across the horizon at the eastern edge of the Brecon Beacons National Park. A typical painting trip for Maggie would comprise of loading up her car with her painting rucksack, canvases and tent then driving to the Brecon Beacons. Constrained by full body thermals, layers of fleece, waterproofs, hat and gloves she pitches her tent to shelter from the elements. The weather and light can change moment by moment so the scene is transformed as she paints. For Maggie, often the skies are as exciting as the landscapes. The need to work fast to record a particular effect is important. She tends to have two or three paintings on the go at the same time, swopping them as the light changes. On occasions the wind can gust up to 60mph and the rain falls so heavily it fills the tent with a cacophony of sounds so loud that Maggie finds it hard to concentrate.
Keith Foster’s work is a personal response to the cultural heritage and ever changing moods of the Welsh landscape. The diversity of the environment, from deep industrial valleys to wild rugged hills and majestic mountains are an ongoing source of subject matter. His current series of paintings, Celtic Mystic Lands, is a consequence of years of evolving work inspired by his intimate knowledge of the area. The historical influences and cultural changes from the past, present and to the future and his faith in the landscape nourishes and stimulates his imagination from which he says ‘Hope Springs Eternal’. He paints using bold expressive strokes, where the paint can sometimes be tactile. The colour can be vivid and evocative in its intensity, creating a personal relationship between the painting and the viewer.
For Claire Lovell, inspiration comes from a love of the natural world and living things, whether that be the sea or land, wildlife and people moving about, or the simplest everyday objects we find in our homes. On a deeper and perhaps more important level her work comes from a deep rooted and life long frustration to express a feeling inside that is too inexplicable for her to communicate in words. It is a combination of the joy and sadness that accompanies her wonder of life – the exciting, yet tragic nature of it all.
Despite a brief period studying art in her earlier life, she is largely self taught. She says she feels lucky to have worked closely alongside an eminent Oxfordshire painter for almost 10 years year, where painting trips to Cornwall, Scotland, France and West Wales have provided exciting adventures and opportunities to develop her painting and experiment with painting styles. These trips have allowed her to absorb the subject matter that really drives her – nature at its best. Currently, she is based in Usk and spends much of her time in her bright and airy studio in Monmouth.
Lee Wright is an artist and printmaker based near Crickhowell, South Wales. He is known for his hand made, limited edition reduction lino prints mainly inspired by the beautiful landscape of the Brecon Beacons and surrounding areas.
His reduction linocuts are each produced from a single piece of artist's lino from which Lee successively cuts out his design and then prints multiple layers on top of each other in different colours. This technique requires a lot of planning and patience. It is a skilful and time consuming process which creates small editions of detailed and delicately coloured images. Lee also produces limited edition etching and collagraph prints.
He trained as a printmaker at The Putney School of Art and currently studies classical drawing and oil painting techniques in the tradition of the Masters at The Welsh Academy of Art.
Profile - Louise Collis
Supporting this exhibition is Pontypool artist Louise Collis. Her work will form the profile slot and will feature up to 30 oil paintings. After graduating from Bath College of Arts, she took up work as a designer and her painting was put on a back burner. Then five years ago, while on a trip to Cornwall, she felt inspired and started painting again. Her aim now is to become a full time artist. Her work on paper and canvas is inspired by the South Wales Valleys as well as the Black Mountains and the Brecon Beacons. Most of her paintings are produced on location and she can be spotted working in all weathers. In inclement weather she has been known to paint on the dashboard of her car. Along with her en plein air pieces in this exhibition is a number of larger studio pieces.
At the launch, Maggie Banks and Louise Collis will give an insight into what life is like as plein air artists.
In All Weathers (& Maggie Bank’s mobile studio) can be seen at Y Galeri, Caerphilly from 20 May – 28 June.