The View From Here
Thomas Gainsborough is where the English tradition in landscape painting started. These wonderfully observed and rendered pictures provide the nation with some of its most important and treasured paintings together with a standard by which we measure beauty.
Produced through a close study of nature, sublime draftmanship and a deep emotional attachment to the landscape Gainsborough provided, for the first time, a visual sense of a national identity.
In September 2011, The Holburne Museum, Bath, held a large exhibition of Gainsborough’s landscapes, both paintings and drawings. I was commissioned to make a new body of landscape photographs in order to form a companion exhibition to the museums show. Hung in an adjacent space within the museum the visual dialogue between both sets of work allowed the audience to think about the landscape of England today and to consider artistic approaches to the landscape over time and through different media.
Made on an 8 x 10 inch view camera these large-scale colour my prints mirrored the scale of the paintings and revealed an astonishing level of detail. Using a shoebox Gainsborough also constructed an early form of viewing box. After painting his landscapes on glass, he lit them from behind using candles and referred to them as ‘transparent paintings’. As a contemporary response to this cinematic dimension to Gainsborough’s work I produced a large transparency illuminated in a light box using the modern Duratran process.
Historically Gainsborough is associated with both East Anglia and Bath. These images were centred on both areas. Based in Norfolk I have always been conscious of the visual traditions of East Anglia and the paintings of both Gainsborough and Constable in particular. It is this practice that provides the historical context to this work.