Some months ago, I asked What is a Portrait? I only ask the current question because of two exhibitions which have opened recently in Bolton. Where is the line between landscape and abstract art? Is there such a line?
The title “Harmony of the Land”, the show which opened a couple of weeks ago (and which continues until 11th March) at the Gallery At St Georges House, certainly suggests landscapes and cityscapes. As always, Emma Kelly has curated another excellent show.
There are five local artists represented. Trish Hurst, who I didn’t get a chance to meet, has only two works on show. Her work blurs the boundaries between painting, drawing and photography. She starts with digital photographs which she combines and manipulates before adding layers of drawing and paint.
Liz Gribben usually works with figure and portrait drawing but she has four paintings of the Bridgewater Canal. I say paintings although Liz works with acrylic inks rather than acrylic paints. The inks are far more transparent than paints and Liz builds up the final piece in layers.
John Bentley is the only photographer in the show. He runs 42graphs (that’s four-two-graphs i.e. photographs) and publishes The Photography Daily on Twitter (
@fourTwographs ). Worth checking out! Here are a couple of his photographs in the show (sorry about the colour balance!):
The two other artists were very well represented in the exhibition. David Winning was not at the opening night. I understand he was somewhere in Europe working with a producer of art materials. David’s approach is media responsive and he says that engagement with the process is far more important than the outcome. Probably my favourite piece in the show was David’s graphite drawing ‘Tarn’. Unfortunately reflections on the glass detract seriously with my photograph. (You’ll need to go and see it ‘in the flesh’ as it were!)
Julia Entwistle claims to be a ‘romantic landscape painter’. “My moods are variable, as are the landscapes I paint, whether it’s moors, mountains, rivers or sea. All evoke powerful emotions within me.” I really liked her moorland paintings. Even though approaching abstract, they are clearly (to me at least) the moorland around Bolton.
Julia’s landscapes are approaching abstract but are still landscapes, but at Neoartists, at the Market Hall in Bolton, there is a new exhibition by printmaker Ross Loveday, which opened last week and runs until February 24th, whose work can be described as landscape-inspired abstract.
This looks like a landscape, as Ross explained to me, simply because it has horizontals. Others, he explained, although they had been inspired by a particular place or a specific incident, were far more abstract.
Ross won his one-man show as part of his prize at last year’s neo:printprize. He produces carborundum and drypoint prints as he likes the loose, organic nature of the process.
On leaving the gallery, I thought that was it for landscapes. However, by the door, there was a poster for another exhibition at Stockport which, judging solely by the poster, I suspect could be another ‘Is it landscape or is it abstract?’ show.
On the way out of the Market Hall, I saw some other landscapes. Have a look at them and make a judgement before reading the information after the third one.
These three landscapes are all from an exhibition by Year 6 pupils at the local independent school. (For none UK that means ten year olds.) I thought they were pretty good for any age let alone that young!