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Art Writer

As an art promoter, being able to write clearly and coherently about an artist is important in promoting their work successfully. I have written and published a book on John Clerk of Eldin, prepared numerous catalogues for individual and group art exhibitions, and been commissioned by artists to write introduction essays on their work. Samples of my writing on art can be found below.

If you would like help in preparing a statement about your work or similar, please email or call me.

Pennie Elfick’s paintings are as cool and calm as they are sophisticated, this new collection as pared down and restrained as anything seen previously. Working within a strict range of colour of complementary tone and hue, Elfick continues to challenge the viewer’s perceptions of colour and perspective. She has started to paint with acrylics, the faster drying time (days rather than weeks) allowing her to respond more instantaneously to the changing circumstances.

Previous statements about Elfick’s work refer to the influence of local light and landscape on her art, citing notations and keys that allude to, rather than specifically describe, the world around her. This remains as true as ever, the AM series (referring to Aller Moor), for instance, drawn from the flooding of Somerset Levels in the winter of 2013-14. Nonetheless, even though particular forms within Elfick’s paintings can be seen within a landscape idiom - rows of parallel lines, for example, suggesting markers or planes in a landscape – they should not be taken literally. Elfick consciously attempts to relay her emotional responses to her experiences of the Somerset Levels, structured in a reduced, minimalist, fashion.

 Elfick introduces new features and reinvents older ones – bars or thick lines bordering central plains of colour; the juxtaposition of patterns; the brush marks that swirl across some of her canvases – that extend her modes of expression. Additionally, one finds greater complexity in her pattern making. In the Neutral Conversation and Taking a Walk series there is considerable interplay between components, with shapes that appear to come forward or recede, giving the picture planes a semblance of depth and aerial perspective. Horizontal and diagonal patterning, aligned and overlapping, extend and close off spaces within the image, in the manner of windows and curtains.

 Overall, in this new collection the mood is quiet, the atmosphere one of suffused light. It is tempting to translate this in terms of early morning mist in which light is softened and transformed by moist air. As ever, colour is a key element in Elfick’s achieving this. In the new paintings there is a propensity toward a muted palette with predominant hues coming from a subdued range of blues and pinks, some verging on greys, punctured by acidic red, green and yellow highlights. Other paintings are characterised by deeper hues. Talking about her experiences of the Somerset floods Elfick states “Each day I looked out from the Studio windows to see ever increasing levels of water. Some days it was beautiful with the water appearing blue as if it were a Mediterranean inland sea; other times it would be dark, foreboding, with fast running currents and wind whipped surf. A beautiful sunrise could turn the water pink, or just cast a gossamer thin veil of grey over everywhere. There were days when to look would evoke a terrible sense of despair, knowing that under the water the land was rotting, creating a grave yard of vegetation and wildlife.”

 Alongside the muted palette and the geometry of the coloured rectangles, texture plays an important part in each painting. From afar areas of colour can look flat and it is only up close that one can see the careful modulation of layering that gives the painted surface its dynamic. Working with acrylic has meant a greater manipulation of the painted surface, made easier by painting on wood boards rather than canvas. The subtleties of the process are instrumental to the success of creating the atmosphere in the paintings that comprise the Contemplation series. Here, the bars and lines that border the central area chart the make-up of the central hues.

 By contrast Elfick’s much larger AM oils on canvas, technically different, are filled with gestural brush marks that are clearly visible from any distance. In these latter works, flatter and more precisely painted forms float in closer proximity to the picture surface, containing colours that act as reference notes to those that flourish within the swirling mass.

 Elfick’s current paintings present ways of creating the illusion of three dimensional space through the use of carefully modulated colour. The images take a while to appreciate. It is not that they are optically challenging, rather that there is more going on in each work than immediately meets the eye. One needs to give each painting the time to reveal itself in order to be fully appreciated. In a fast moving world, Elfick’s images are an oasis of tranquility.

Ione Parkin RWA

 Ione Parkin has spent the past twenty years as a professional artist painting images that reflect elements of the world that she has experienced. In the past decade she has focussed more on geological references, with other ideas coming from satellite pictures of the earth’s surface and microscopic detailed imagery of earth’s structural components. In the past, in discussions of Parkin’s paintings, much has been said about this source material. However, I would like to argue that this is not essential in appreciating her imagery. Parkin’s work is an ongoing exploration of how to resolve, for her, the action of painting.


 Jenni Dutton’s current work on the figure has evolved from a series of conceptual dress sculptures that began in the late 1990s. Since gaining her degree in sculpture from St Martin’s School of Art, London in 1969, Dutton moved from working with very linear ideas of the figure to experimenting with wrapping forms. Besides altering the way in which she managed spatial construction, it offered her new opportunities in defining the figure in sculptural terms.

ECHOES & TRACES - Introduction

 The nature of memory and memory loss is one of the largest issues of society today. At hospitals around the UK, there are increasing numbers of people seeking treatment who suffer some degree of dementia. Current statistics indicate that at the age of sixty, one in twenty people have dementia; this rate increases significantly to one in three at the age of eighty five. Most people will know or know of someone with dementia. Echoes & Traces brings together the work of artists for whom memory and identity are the starting point in their art - reflecting on early personal experiences; preserving life histories; commemorating people, places and events - through the act of documenting and telling stories.

ANNA GARDINER  ‘In the Neighbourhood’

Anna Gardiner makes visible the world we inhabit, a world in which we exist and spend our daily lives. This is a world that has become so familiar to us that we take it for granted, and that by doing so, it has become invisible. Her images illuminate chance encounters, small events and surprises. They illustrate life in flow. So, on the occasion a moment of this life is observed by the artist’s eye, it is captured and presented as something new.

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  • Geoffrey Bertram
  • 1 Knuscroft Lane, Thurloxton, Somerset TA2 8RL
  • 01823 413388
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