Ebb and Flow: recent paintings and gilded wood carvings
5 March – 17 April 2016
First Floor Rope Gallery, Sladers Yard
A full-colour 28 page catalogue for David West’s new exhibition, with a foreword by Christopher Roper, is available at £10 plus £1.20 postage in the UK. View the exhibition further down this page.
David West’s extraordinary talents both as a wood carver and as a painter have realised a visionary peacefulness and contemplative quality in his most recent work. Gilded carvings of the moon and of moonlight on the sea were the first signs of his bringing the mystery and wonder he discovered on a trip to Japan in 2008 back to his own surroundings here in Dorset and these have lead to a fascination with light on the surface of water in all its many manifestations.
David West has lived and worked in Lyme Regis with the River Lim flowing past his studio and garden for 35 years. Both the paintings and the carvings in this show express the movement and qualities of water. The oil paint on his canvases seems almost to disappear at times, as subtle and powerful as water itself. Reductive and quiet in colour and theme, they explore rain on the pavements, the surface of the river, the patterns of rooftops and cast-iron railings seen through mist, to create beautiful peaceful works. The wood carvings combine a subtle use of gold leaf and colour, with the qualities of the bare wood. Lily ponds are brought to life with newts which seem to express the shape and character of the water itself. Moonlight on a wet beach continues to be a rich seam of interest. Both the paintings and the carvings derive from closely observed drawings which he has developed freely.
David West has been carving in wood for some forty years. His pieces have always been imaginative, witty, filled with fantasy and wonder. His work is in museums, public galleries and private collections. Born in London in 1939, he studied painting and printmaking at Camberwell School of Art. He taught part-time at various art schools until 1972. Since then he has worked full-time as a professional artist on both commissioned and other works. He moved to Lyme Regis, Dorset, in 1981. For many years he has been fascinated by the miniature. He spent seven years building a doll’s house and gardens for a private collector. He has always described his role as creating a framework or situation which will allow the spectator to enter and partake in his or her own fantasy.
In 1991 he became involved with the restoration of the Town Mill in Lyme Regis. He stepped down as chairman in 2000. During this time he began running summer workshops at Parnham in Beaminster and in different parts of Japan. In 2008 he was invited by the Sasakawa Foundation of Great Britain to spend four weeks travelling and drawing in Japan. The trip included a walk along parts of the Kumano Kodo, an ancient Buddhist/Shinto pathway in the Kii Peninsular which links numerous temples and shrines, often located near waterfalls or some other natural feature.
For the next six years he worked on ideas directly inspired by his experiences in Japan. At first he did not know how to express the sense of mystery and wonder the walk had evoked in him. A commission to carve new organ pipe shades for St Michael’s Church in Lyme Regis acted as a catalyst. For the first time he experimented with gilding, under-painting and pierced carving and, using these techniques, he went on to make some large woodcarvings relating directly to his Japanese drawings. He showed these in Lyme Regis in 2010. He showed more gilded pathway carvings, their size and impact condensed to that of icons, together with woodcuts prints, in his first exhibition at Sladers Yard in 2013. His latest carvings and paintings continue that thinking in a response to his surroundings at home. He lives with his wife, Barbara Steel, who is also a painter. They have a daughter, and three grandchildren.
Private and public collections include the University of Warwick; Ulster Museum, Belfast; Totnes Hospital; Philpott Museum, Lyme Regis; Dorset Museum, Dorchester; University of Ashikawa, Hokkaido; Sasakawa Foundation of Great Britain, Tokyo; St. Michael’s Church, Lyme Regis; John Makepeace Collection; Equity and Law; The Builder Group Ltd. and St. Lawrence University, New York.
Solo shows include Fischer Fine Art, London 1984; Parnham House, Beaminster 1985; a touring exhibition from 1987-8 at: Royal Albert Museum, Exeter, Glynn Vivian, Swansea, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Mead Gallery, Warwick University, Cliffe Castle, Keighley and Dorset Museum, Dorchester; Town Mill Gallery, Lyme Regis 2010; Sladers Yard, West Bay 2013 and 2016.
The paintings and carvings in Ebb and Flow are shown below. Please click on an image to see it larger with a caption and to view the show piece by piece. Please contact Sladers Yard on 01308 459511 or by responding to this page to enquire about David West’s work.