The feeling of shock and disbelief walking down by the river after the floods and seeing the debris left high in trees and the mixture of roots, large pieces of fencing, furniture and metal that ended up tangled in trees. Areas of riverbank which just disappeared overnight and trees that were ripped out of the ground. Even now, the grooves in the grass where tree trunks were dragged along are still visible and the new pebble beach is a lasting reminder of the floods.
The floods caused so much trauma to the people of Cumbria and even those not directly effected like myself, were shocked by the impact on people and the landscape around us. The weeks and months after the flood I documented my dog walks with sketches and photos of the aftermath; the debris in the trees, the uprooted trees and the river bank destruction – over time these developed into paintings.
The paintings are inspired by my experiences, sketches and photographs and involve an eclectic use of mixed media. Using acrylic paint and inks, I am never sure what the paintings will be when I start – they evolve and become a conversation between me and the painting. I have used materials from the floods, placed on the canvas and wet ink to produce some interesting marks to work with. I often use sewing patterns in my paintings, the arrows and symbols remind me of symbols and contours on maps , and I also found that the measurements reminded me of flood height recordings. Many of the paintings have layers of mark making and I enjoy rediscovering marks hidden underneath paint. I also use resin in some of my paintings which ‘captures’ a part of the painting and holds it while I work around it. Despite the subject matter, there is a surprising beauty to the paintings, some reminding me of the ariel views of the river from a drone, others of the riverbanks and trees.
Here are some examples of sketches and photos from initial observations. This was the first stage of the process.
This first painting was created based on images of the flood debris.
As always, I’m fascinated by the tangle of object, wood and general debris in the trees around the river. Also the fact that it seems to have made a big change in the landscape around the river, much of the field is no longer there – the river is wider and now has a rocky beach.
These are some initial sketches and playing with ideas which is how I start to experiment in the studio. Drawing inspiration from the change in the landscape, I look at shapes, spaces and colour.
These are some images of paintings in process to show the pieces develop.
The is a first draft of the painting ‘Fieldline’. As you can see from the following four images, this piece changed and evolved a lot before the final piece.
Second stage of ‘Fieldline’
Third stage of ‘Fieldline’
Fourth stage of ‘Fieldline’
The final piece now retitled ”Fence line refigured’
Details of the painting