Paradise Found: New Visions of the Blackdown Hills
Thelma Hulbert Gallery, Honiton, Devon.
18 March – 3 June 2023
PV 3-5pm 18 March
Exhibition exploring the Blackdown Hills through the artist’s lens past and present.
Curated by Fiona McIntyre, Sandra Higgins and Tim Craven.
I have painted two views at Applehayes, as seen from the house and towards it across the valley, after Charles Ginner’s Landscape Applehayes painting from 1912.
This is what I wrote about my visit;
‘Winding through tiny roads, edges tightening, grass lining the centre, encountering horses, walkers and a tractor from the 1940s I arrived at Applehayes, a solid farmhouse over looking a valley in the Blackdown Hills, outhouses tucked beneath deep cushions of moss, the air wet, droplets hanging from my hair, the smell of water. Walking down into the valley with the house behind me, steep slopes of saturated sponge, feet sinking, passing through dense woodland, mini rain forests,, opening out to wild grassy fields, mushrooms the size of your head, abandoned barns and not a soul. Rising up the opposing side I look back at Applehayes, nestled in a crowd of fading trees, leaves browning, yellowing and reddening, peppered with deep green scots pine and silver birch ghosts.
Retracing my steps I pass beyond Applehayes to the top of the hill, watching a distant storm silently blacken, undulating horizon, pale violet, stripes of field, hedge and wood, sun and shade coming and going, I walk through farm, gate, pockets of ancient woodland and field atop, buckets of apples, still not a soul.’ CC
Between 1911 and 1925 the Blackdown Hills were a source of inspiration for members of the avant-garde painters of the Camden Town Group. They captured the ancient landscape and its particularity with the progressive French artistic approach of Cezanne, Gauguin and Van Gogh.
Contemporary artists including past and present members of The London Group (previously the Camden Town Group), will recapture the same sites that were painted by Spencer Gore, Charles Ginner and Robert Bevan of the Camden Town Group. The contemporary works will be exhibited alongside drawings and paintings (together with reproductions of paintings and photographs) made by Gore, Ginner and Bevan. These will include a great-granddaughter of Malcolm Drummond, founder member of the Camden Town and London Groups.
The environment has changed little over the last 100 years, partly due to its inaccessibility for modern development. From the surreal, abstracted, expressionist and the hyper-real to the conceptual and post-modern, the Blackdown subjects will be a vehicle to survey and consider recent developments of drawing and painting in the British landscape tradition.
The exhibition will provide a fascinating insight into the ecological, social, industrial and historic issues particular to the Blackdown Hills over the same 100 year period, examining the values and characteristics which so attracted the Camden Town artists.
This project has been made possible through partnerships with the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty and the Bevan family.