Press/Media

Somerset Levels

Posted by admin2556 on September 19, 2009

Photography, painting and drawing by Don McCullin, James Lynch, Luke Piper and Richard Pomeroy

19 September - 4 October 2009
Monday - Saturday 9am - 11pm, Sunday 11am - 4pm

The Levels are Somerset's reliquary, holding history and myth in its landscape. They are also Britain's largest wetland area, maintaining diverse wildlife and criss-crossed with rhynes and drains that date back centuries. Don McCullin has brought his immense experience as a photojournalist to the Levels; the painters James Lynch, Luke Piper and Richard Pomeroy show three very different responses to this inspiring landscape.

DON McCULLIN, who made his name as a Sunday Times photographer, has been called the world's greatest war photographer. Since moving to Somerset he has concentrated on still life and landscape. The following is from a recent interview with BBC Radio 3's John Tusa:

People are actually liking my English landscape photographs, despite the fact that they're sometimes a bit gloomy... they're saying, I really like your landscapes, and I hope you do more, so, I'm moving towards one thing and hopefully, miles away from the other thing which was war.

..the English countryside...is one of my great passions. I hate the idea of swamping this country with shoe-box housing. People who buy up beautiful pieces of England, and turn them into homes

I love being in England during the winter...and I look forward to the evening light, and the naked trees when I go out; and I live in this Arthurian world of Somerset. I really like working with angry clouds, and naked trees, and English hedgerows and things, and you know, I think I'm allowed to use this as a kind of herbal medicine for my mind; to love the environment where I live.

I've also been accused by the way, of my English landscapes looking like war scenes. But I inject these dark skies, and obviously, the dark skies and the reflection of water in the Somerset Levels, the darkness in me is still there, really.

JAMES LYNCH, born in 1956, has been painting professionally for thirty years. From his first sell-out exhibition in the 1980s he went on to win awards from the Royal Academy, the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation and The Spectator. His patrons include the National Trust, the Folio Society and many eminent private collectors. He exhibits regularly with the Maas Gallery in London.

He became known in the 1980s and 90s for his monumental animals set in visionary landscapes, but his recent work focuses on the seasonal light and dramatic weather of the Somerset and Dorset landscape, and its different moods at different times of day.

James paints using the ancient medium of egg tempera. He mixes traditional gesso from raw ingredients and makes his paint according to Quattrocento recipes, using pure ground pigments, egg yolk and water. The paint is built up in thin layers and the surface hardens to one of the most durable and lightfast there is, with a sheen which gives a translucent glow to the colours.

James is married to painter, Kate Lynch, and they live on a hill overlooking the Somerset Levels and Moors where his studio commands breathtaking views over King's Sedgemoor towards Glastonbury Tor. His interest in paragliding provides inspiration for his paintings.

LUKE PIPER works at speed in a mix of media - the ingredients usually include pencil,
ink, watercolour, pastel and gouache. His paintings have the idiosyncratic Piper look. Though Luke picked up many of his father's working practices while working alongside him as a child, Edward advised him not to become an artist. However, a degree in geography from Cambridge only encouraged his passion for landscape, its inner workings and interrelations. While this knowledge undoubtedly informs his paintings, the work itself is about vision, and the specific conditions that can make a particular landscape or cityscape, for a moment, magical. The struggle then is a romantic one - to capture that moment.

RICHARD POMEROY, born in 1960 and brought up in Somerset, pursued a career in the London contemporary art world before taking up painting full time 12 years ago. On moving back to Somerset the local landscape became the overriding inspiration for his work. He exhibits regularly in London and the West Country.
Recently Richard has been using his body to create body prints in the background of his paintings and drawings. This creates an intriguing play of images and serves to remind the viewer that it is impossible to look at landscape without seeing the influence of humanity. For the last year the Somerset Levels have dominated the work in his studio - they are both the ultimate man-made landscape and a vast refuge for wildlife. Willow trees and Cider orchards are the subjects of these paintings.
The following is a quote from a recent catalogue essay:- 'Discovering his motifs in many countries (including his own), Richard Pomeroy re-presents them in his pictures with a strong focus on visual facts and with a clarity enhanced by the elimination of superfluous detail. His painting processes are comparably straightforward. Curiously, however, the effects are strange. Whether from New Zealand, Scandinavia, Portugal, Devon or even London, each motif transmits the atmosphere of its region of origin, yet it has also been relocated to the world of Pomeroy's imagination.' Richard Morphet.

At The Chapel, High Street, Bruton, Somerset, BA10 0AE
01749 814070, mail@atthechapel.co.uk