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Environments

This is a series of artworks that I created during my time as an Artist in Residence at The Wilson, Cheltenham's art gallery and museum.

 

These landscape artworks are based on local open spaces—the Park Campus, Pittville Park and Leckhampton Hill—and locations along the routes on foot to these spaces. Unable to drive due to my sight impairment, local open spaces are important to me, as they were to all of us during lockdown, when our excursions were limited. My inclusion of benches within the larger landscape paintings nods to my experience of living with Long Covid since March 2020, and the importance of creating accessible and inclusive spaces for everyone to enjoy.

 

When spending time in green spaces, I enjoy the sounds and feels of nature as much as the sights. I am far more likely to hear birds singing that to be able to see them, and I enjoy feeling the textures of leaves, tree bark and other natural elements.

 

I created audio recordings that can be listened to alongside the landscapes. These audio recordings are based on field recordings from these sites and the journeys to them. They aim to bring another element of the experience of spending time in these local spaces to the artworks. I also created plaster artworks, which were cast from found natural materials. 

 

The collection also includes four pieces that combine knitting with found natural elements. Knitting is a craft that was passed down to me from my grandmother forty years ago. The knitting uses local wool from rare breed Cotswold sheep. Our local landscape has been shaped over millennia by human activities, including the Romans bringing the “Cotswold Lion” sheep to farm locally for their wool. Natural and human elements run side-by-side in the environment, and I aim to illustrate this by weaving them together in these pieces. 

Park Bench

Park Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a park. In the foreground is an area of grass painted in shades of vivid green. At the bottom left of the painting is a loosely painted back of a teal park bench. Beyond the grass is a dark green lake with loose reflections of trees and bushes painted in oose lines across it. Two mallards - a duck on the left and a drake on the right – are painted on the lake, moving diagonally towards one another and the viewer. The lower half of a silver birch tree is depicted growing on the near side of the lake. Its bark is painted in shades of off-white and grey-brown, with its dappled leaves in shades of light olive green and yellow against a blue sky. Beyond the lake are more dappled trees and bushes.

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

£325

Park Bench is an expressive acrylic landscape painting based on the Park Campus in Cheltenham.

When exhibited at the Environments exhibition at The Wilson in May-June 2023, this painting was mounted on the wall on hinges. Visitors were invited to gently open the painting from the wall on its hinges to read more about the location and my journey. On the wall behind the painting was text that reads: 

My Walk to the Park Campus

 

A short walk from my house, the Park Campus was for a time the only green space I could access beyond my garden, and remains a favourite.

 

In March 2020, lockdown arrived, confining us all to our local areas. While people marked their allotted daily exercise on foot around local roads, seizing land from the cars, I was confined to home, unwell. My recovery felt long, growing longer, growing into Long Covid as this term was claimed by patients who clamoured to be heard. When my chest pain and troubled breathing allowed, I would walk slowly, slowly to the Park Campus and around the pond.

 

Built in the shape of Africa, this humble pond was part of a grand scheme that locals often talk of, telling tales that grow taller with the telling. I doubt there were ever plans to house lions and tigers on the islands, with visitors protected by the waters inbetween, but Elephant Walk remains as testament to the animals that were to be brought here.

 

London Zoo, the UK’s first, opened in 1828 in Regent’s Park. The 1830s then saw fierce, scholarly, competition between north and south in Cheltenham. The Cheltenham Zoological Society wanted to create a zoo north of the High Street, close to the Pump Room in Pittville, while rival Gloucestershire Zoological, Botanical and Horticultural Society, had its eyes set on the Park Estate to the south. South won out, with the Zoological Gardens opening in time for Queen Victoria’s coronation, but the dream of a grand zoo was short-lived. 

 

There are no bears, monkeys or vultures here now. Instead bold squirrels, greylag geese, mallards and a kaleidoscopic Mandarin duck compete for the food we bring.

Pittville Park Benches

Pittville Park Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a park. In the foreground there is a grey path appearing close to the left at the bottom of the painting and undulating across to the right-hand side, with grass painted in shades of vivid green below this path on the bottom right section of the painting. This path marks the near edge of a lake, and there are three black park benches painted next to this path on the grass. The largest of these benches is in the bottom centre of the painting, with two smaller benches to the right. The lake is painted in dark green, with reflections of light blue sky, and green and yellow tree leaves painted in loose horizontal lines across it, showing ripples on the water. Two swans are depicted on the right-hand edge of the lake. On the far side of the lake are abstracted trees in shades of green, autumnal yellow and red. At the top of the painting, oak tree branches are hanging down with leaves painted in shades of green, y

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

£325

Pittville Park Benches is an expressive acrylic landscape painting based on the Pittville Park in Cheltenham.

When exhibited at the Environments exhibition at The Wilson in May-June 2023, this painting was mounted on the wall on hinges. Visitors were invited to gently open the painting from the wall on its hinges to read more about the location and my journey. On the wall behind the painting was text that reads: 

My walk to Pittville Park

I head by foot on road towards the train station: symbol of a mode of transport that took me to school and work for decades, and across Europe with my friends as a student. An unreliable tool of my independence.

                                                                        

I remember the sound of the tracks, as I crisscrossed on the way into my station, warning me that my stop was approaching

 

Taking my life in my hands I twice cross roads with no controlled crossings, scared in the face of others’ vehicular freedom. At last I reach the sanctuary of the Honeybourne Line, a former rail track. A victim of a transport infrastructure built around the car, this line closed and now lives on as a walking and cycling route, free of traffic.

 

I share the route with bikes, joggers, scooters, dog walkers, wheelchair users, families young and old playing. On this long, straight route I can close my eyes to rest and walk, breathing the petrichor scent and listen to the birds.

 

As I walk under bridges and through tunnels, my footsteps echo. I enjoy the ever-changing street art, missing my favourite pieces, and sad when taggers destroy the art. Crossing over the Jubilee Bridge, I listen to the river Chelt and traffic flow past below.

 

Chipped spray paint in myriad colours; rust; rivets all form a tapestry of colour on old metal railway infrastructure and plants stubbornly grow through walls and fences. I walk past rooftops along the final stretch of the track.

 

Leaving the sanctuary of the Honeybourne Line, I cross the final uncontrolled road before heading into Pittville Park. Home to a mash of Regency elegance, where waters could be taken at the Pump Room, boaters on the lake, children at play, and skaters honing their skills. I greet George the swan as I circle his lake.

Leckhampton Hill Bench

Leckhampton Hill BenLeckhampton Hill Bench is a landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of the view from the top of Leckhampton Hill out across fields and houses. In the foreground there is a red earth path with a simple wooden bench on it. Rough patches of grass are growing at the base of the bench, and breaking through the path. On the far side of the path is a narrow stretch of grass, slanting up towards the right-hand edge of the painting. There are dappled trees in various shades of green and reddish brown beyond this. In the distance are fields, cross-crossed with trees and hedgerows; areas of houses; and wooded patches. The horizon is painted in blue-grey to depict hills, topped with a gently clouded sky.ch.JPG

Acrylic on cradled panel

20" x 16"

£325

Leckhampton Hill Bench is an expressive acrylic landscape painting based on the view from Leckhampton Hill, out across Cheltenham.

When exhibited at the Environments exhibition at The Wilson in May-June 2023, this painting was mounted on the wall on hinges. Visitors were invited to gently open the painting from the wall on its hinges to read more about the location and my journey. On the wall behind the painting was text that reads: 

My walk to Leckhampton Hill

Crossing over Hatherley Brook, I leave it to flow past gardens and under roads where I can't follow. A few minutes later, I turn away from the traffic of a busy road, to rejoin the brook as I take a path that runs alongside it.

 

The sounds of rustling leaves, trickling water and bird song calm me as traffic sounds fade.

 

Walking through Burrows field, where dogs run and bikes fly, I see Lechhampton Hill rise above me. After a short road route, I enter a wide open field where I feel the sun and the breeze on my face.

 

Mud-spattered and out of breath, I rest on a stile before joining the route of the old tramway that used to carry quarried stones down from the hill. Trees creak, birds sing and traffic rumbles past.

 

Crossing Lechhampton Road on to Daisybank I slowly follow the tramway route again up a steep incline toward the remains of a lime kiln. Birds shrill and the distant booms of modern industry echo the quarries of the past. I greet other walkers and say a silent thanks to those who plotted, burned and rioted so that we can wander here I peace.

 

Leaving the lime kiln, I face the find steep ascent to the plateau of the hill where a cobweb of paths is scored across the undulating limestone landscape.

 

I rest on a bench, cooler in the breeze. I breathe deeply feeling the hill air refresh my tired lungs and look out across the blur of Cheltenham and the distant hills.

Park Treetops

Park Treetops is a small landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of two tree tops against the sky. The sky is dappled from mid blue at the top with light yellow shades coming in at the bottom. There are tree tops to the left and right of the painting - painted loosely with a palette knife to represent the light shining through the leaves.

Acrylic on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

Park Squirred

Park Squirrel is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting. It depicts a grey squirrel on all-fours facing towards the left of the painting and looking out at the viewer, as if in anticipation. The background shows grass painted in dots of light bright green. The squirrel is painted in dots of grey, brown and russet tones. Its large bushy tail is ringed with white, showing the sunlight shining off the edge of it.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£50

Park Mallard

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

6” x 8”

£50

Park Staring Greylag

Park Staring Greylag is a small, portrait-orientation pointillism-style watercolour painting of a greylag goose staring out towards the viewer. It shows the head and neck of a swan. The goose is painted in dots of soft brownish grey, with an orange beak, turning pink towards the end. The goose is looking directly out towards the viewer, with its brown eyes slightly protruding from either side of its head. The top and left of the goose’s head are lighter to show the sunlight shining on it. There is a shadow running down the right of the goose’s neck, which is painted in rippling vertical lines of darker and lighter dots to show the feathers running down it. The background is bright light green in the lower half, with darker green dots depicting shadows across the grass, and trees above this, with a bright blue sky at the top.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

6” x 8”

£50

Park Mandarin Duck

Park Mandarin Duck.jpePark Mandarin Duck is a small landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a brightly coloured Mandarin Duck drake swimming across a dull green pond. The Mandarin Duck is in the centre of the painting, facing towards the right. Painted in a loose kaleidoscope of colours, its head has a russet red lower half, with a streak of white running along on top of this, then blue, red and blue feathers on top of its head. The duck’s lower body is painted in stripes of black and white at its chest, with a dappled light brown along with length of its body. It has bright russet wings held in sails, with brown tail feathers. These colours are reflected in loosely painted dapples on the water. The water itself is painted in a dull olive green, with ripples of white running across it, to show the movement of the duck through the water. g

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

Park Boathouse

Park Boathouse is a small portrait-orientation expressive acrylic portrait of a small turquoise green boathouse at the edge of a pond. The foreground of the painting shows the dark olive green water of a pond, with horizontal dotted lines of paint to depict rippled reflections on the water. Beyond this on the right is a small turquoise boathouse, with a small dovecote on the back of the roof. On the left of the painting is a tall tree with dappled leaves in shades of light green reaching up into a blue sky.

Acrylic on cradled panel

6” x 8”

£40

Pittville Park Yellow Tree

Pittville Park Yellow Tree is an expressive acrylic painting of a number of trees by a lake, with an autumnal yellow tree at their centre. The foreground of the painting shows dark green plants growing at the edge of a lake. The water is painted in dashes of colour to show reflections of the light blue sky and the trees on the far side. These trees are in shades of light and dark green and autumnal russet, with a large yellow-leaved tree in the centre under a blue sky. This yellow tree is highlighted with leaves painted in shades of red.

Acrylic on cradled panel

10” x 12”

£90

Pittville Park Autumn Tree

Pittville Park Autumn Tree is a landscape-orientation abstract painting of a close-up section of a tree painted in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. A few thin branches are loosely painted across the yellow background of the painting. There are prints of maple leaves across the painting in bright red, orange and brown.

Acrylic on cradled panel

12” x 10”

SOLD

Pittville Park Autumn Leaves

Pittville Park Autumn Leaves is a small landscape- abstract painting of autumn leaves painted in vibrant shades of yellow, orange, red and brown. This painting comprises prints of autumn leaves in shades of red, yellow and orange. There are a number of autumnal words written in acrylic paint under these leaf prints, including “rustle”, “drift”, “blow”, “drop” and “stomp”.

Acrylic on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

Pittville Park Blossom

Pittville Park Blossom is a small landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting of a branch of pink blossom against a blue sky. There is a dark brown branch running down the centre of the painting, with small green shoots running off it on either side. Blossom flowers are painted in shades of pink – from pale pink for the open flowers, to darker magenta for the closed buds.

Acrylic on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

Pittville Park and Pump Room

Pittville PaPittville Park and Pump Room is a pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting of Pittville Park. In the foreground there are dappled fallen autumn leaves on the ground, then a dark green rippled lake with reflections of tree and sky, and a fountain towards the right. On the far side of the lake are large trees on a wide grassy lawn, with the Pump room partly hidden behind a smaller, red tree in the background. The Pump Room is a grand sand-coloured building with pillars and a turquoise dome.rk and Pump Room.JPG

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

12” x 10”

£130

Leckhampton Hill Birch Trees

Leckhampton Hill Birch Trees is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting of a group of birch trees. There are dots in shades of green at the bottom to represent grass, and blue in areas at the top to represent sky. There is a cluster of birch trees with green leaves, with shadows falling across the grass at their base, and green hills in the background.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

SOLD

Leckhampton Hill Trig Point

Leckhampton Hill Trig Point is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting. The foreground shows the top of a white stone trig point, with a metal plate with three arms pointing out from a central depression. The white stone is dappled with light brown and grey and marked with lichen. Beyond the trig point is a wide open area of dotted green grass, with trees and muted hills in the distance.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

SOLD

Leckhampton Hill English Longhorn

Leckhampton Hill English Longhorn is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting. A deep brown and white horned cow is lying down on the left of the painting, looking to the right across distant hills.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£50

Leckhampton Hill Walk

Walking up to Leckhampton Hill is a small pointillism-style landscape-orientation watercolour painting. This was painted from a stopping point at the top of a field part way on the walk up to the top of Leckhampton Hill. The foreground shows a fallen tree lying across the grass, painted in dots of grey and brown, with green moss growing on it. Beyond this is green grass, with dotted trees in the distance and the houses of Cheltenham in the distance under a lightly clouded blue sky.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£50

Leckhampton Hill View

Leckhampton Hill View is a landscape-orientation pointillism style painting of a view across distant fields from the top of Leckhampton hill. There is a grassy foreground, with a park bench to the right, with bare tree branches stretching above it. A path runs across this grass, with gorse bushes on the far side of it. In the distance are hills and fields dotted with trees. The sky has light clouds.

Watercolour ink on cradled panel

12” x 10”

£130

Leckhampton Hill Devil's Chimney

Leckhampton Hill Devil’s Chimney is a small landscape-orientation expressive acrylic painting. Devil’s Chimney, a limestone formation stands to the right of the painting. Beyond this are green fields dotted with trees and patches of houses. The distant hills are painted in indigo under a pale blue sky.

Acrylic on cradled panel

8” x 6”

£40

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