Saturday 18 January – Sunday 1 March 2020
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To counterpoint is to emphasise by contrast. Just as in music one melody may be offset against another, in painting one mark, or element, can be balanced or set in tension in relation to another. The three painters in this show paint in the space between figurative and abstract work. All three are inspired by the natural world with a strong awareness of the human impact on that world now and, in Brian Graham’s case, in the long distant past. All three respond emotionally and physically to their subject matter producing paintings of powerful and lasting impact. While their three different approaches accentuate each other.
Set against the paintings are the richly textured, almost barnacled, ceramics of Paul Wearing. Each one seems to contain and embody a landscape be that subaquatic, coastal or mist enshrouded. Their strong classical forms could be from any time while their abstracted unspecified deep-time presence seems particularly of this moment. Petter Southall’s graceful, effortless-looking furniture designs are made in solid hardwoods that speak of reassuring warmth, strength and the value of individual personality. Combining steam-bent curves with smooth straight lines in a kind of still dance.
All five artists are concerned with landscape, the coast, trees and woodland. Martyn Brewster, Brian Graham and Petter Southall are Dorset-based and to some extent occupied with the Dorset landscape and sea. Martyn Brewster’s work focuses on light and water in the moment while Brian Graham always has a feeling for the long-distant past, looking for belief patterns, mood and memory of our earliest ancestors. Daisy Cook is London-based and deeply connected to the natural world and woodlands which she paints in abstracted forms and subtle colour combinations that are both very new and reminiscent of Ben Nicholson and painters of St Ives.
Martyn Brewster’s lyrical abstract paintings combine seductive combinations of colour with vigorous poetic compositions producing paintings, prints and pen and ink drawings that are collected worldwide. Born in Oxford in 1952, he studied Art and Design in Hertfordshire and Fine Art (Painting) in Brighton followed by a Postgraduate diploma in Printmaking. He has been working as a professional artist ever since with regular solo shows in museums and galleries in London and throughout the UK as well as exhibitions in USA, Canada and throughout Europe. He has won numerous awards and his work is in private, public and corporate collections worldwide including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the British Museum. Recently his work has entered the collections of Pallant House, Chichester, and the Hepworth Wakefield. In London and New York he is represented by Waterhouse & Dodd. This is his third exhibition at Sladers Yard.
Daisy Cook works in layers, abrading and paring back the surfaces to reveal or partly reveal what is behind, giving a remarkable sense of depth and of time. Subtle in their lines and character, her calm potent paintings seem to open the mind to quiet realms of colour and feeling. It was the death of Daisy’s father, the comedian Peter Cook, in 1995 which motivated Daisy to devote herself full-time to painting. Since then she has painted professionally and shown regularly in London at the Northcote Gallery, in USA and in good galleries around the UK. Her work is in a number of corporate collections including a commission for the Bank of England as well as those of celebrities including Julianna Marguilles, Geraldine James, Rory Bremner and Terence Conran. Her work has been reviewed in numerous journals and newspapers including Art Review.
Brian Graham is fascinated by the original humans to inhabit Britain and his work reaches back to locate their moods and beliefs. Brian’s work has been enthusiastically embraced by archaeologists and art lovers alike. The Natural History Museum, London, possesses and has exhibited one of his portfolio works, The Book of Boxgrove. In January 2009 he shared a Nature Live Event there, entitled Boxgrove Art and Artefacts, with Professor Chris Stringer, Merit Researcher at the Natural History Museum and co-author with Professor Peter Andrews of another publication about Brian’s work, Starting From Scratch. Brian Graham’s work is in several prestigious private collections and in many public collections including The National Museum of Wales, the art galleries of Dorchester, Southampton, Leicester, Huddersfield and York as well as the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Southampton and London. In 2008, Brian Graham was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by Bournemouth University where for some years he has acted as visual arts consultant. Also that year, a richly illustrated hardback monograph, Brian Graham, Flint and Flame, written by critic and broadcaster Charlotte Mullins was published by Hart Gallery. As well as a number of prestigious touring museum shows, he has had two major solo exhibitions at Sladers Yard.
Paul Wearing is a ceramicist based in Cardiff. He is a Selected Member of the Craft Potters Association of Great Britain and has studied ceramics to post-graduate level. Since graduating in 2000 Paul has exhibited widely across the UK as well as internationally and has been the recipient of numerous funding awards from the Arts Council of Wales. Paul’s work is inspired by nature and landscapes and embraces contrasts of control and chance within the making process. Textures that manifest naturally on surfaces within diverse urban and rural landscapes, are fundamental to his practice and he expresses his relationship to these through the coil-built sculptural vessel form and glazed surface. It is the correlation between the slower emerging cycles of nature and the making process leading to alchemical developments within the kiln that underpins his work.
Award-winning designer craftsman Petter Southall has been making his distinctive furniture at his studio outside Bridport since 1991, converting Sladers Yard as his showroom and contemporary art gallery in 2006. Originally from Norway, he makes his designs using an innovative combination of boat-building and fine cabinet-making techniques. Petter’s designs have a distinctive Scandinavian confidence and simplicity. He finds unique beautiful pieces of oak, ash, elm and other Northern European hardwoods. He specialises in steam bending large solid boards into the arches, twists, curves and rings so striking in his designs. His work is built to last and to age beautifully.
Commissions include the directors’ dining room at the National Gallery, the boardroom for Barbican Art Gallery, reception and boardroom furniture for many different companies and corporations mainly in London & recently for Bridport Town Hall and LSI. He has designed and made public art seating for Cambridge Science Park, the Wessex Ridgeway Sculpture Trail, Sanctuaries for Newton Abbott and Minehead Hospitals & the Macmillan Garden at Hereford Hospital. In 2019 he was commissioned to make a ground-breaking steam-bent pavilion for the Dubai Majlis Show Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Private commissions have been numerous and varied, sometimes including milling and drying trees from clients’ own land and often sourcing timber local to the site of the commission. Tactile, strong and elegant, living with and using his furniture brings deep pleasure every day.