13 October – 16 December, 2018
Stewart Hearn, Barbara Howey, Laura Huston, Femke Lemmens
Colour in Nature featured recent work by artists working in the different media of glass, textiles, paint, ceramic. The possibilities of materials and vibrant colour inspire them all. There was no big idea behind it. Just that there was a thread of approaches common to all the artists.
Resourcefulness is important to all of them and an attention to the potential nature offers. Each artist has an interest in aesthetics and pleasing forms. But also each one is sensitive to the narrative possibilities lying between their chosen material and its expression as physical artefact.
A painter, formerly lecturing at Norwich University of the Arts. She made the series of paintings, ‘Poisoned Idyll’ for a collaborative project with American poet Ann Fisher-Wirth. The art and eco-poetry group Land2 commissioned them to work together. Barbara Howey is a member of the Contemporary British Painting artist’s collective and has exhibited widely with them in East Anglia and in China.
Barbara’s Poisoned Idyll paintings, have heightened the aesthetic for dramatic effect. She has used slightly jarring colour to represent the dangers nature faces from seepage of evil materials which cause pollution. It is important for her that the colours don’t exactly mix, so quite often, she used oil and watercolour together in the same work.
Is a weaver who sources and dyes her own yarns using vegetables and plants. Her practice is intuitive, developing organically as she weaves. She says:
‘I am indeed very much inspired by the environment, passionate about resourcefulness and more and more committed to an approach where the weaves’ colours and textures develop spontaneously from things found in my surroundings.’
Femke Lemmens’s approach to colour is almost the opposite to Barbara Howey’s. Though the two artists are equally interested in environmental issues, they take quite different routes. Femke specialises in using natural plant-based colours to dye her threads. Things like onion skins, indigo, woad, red Kenyan soil. Also she uses a mixture of techniques, such as tie-dying so that one colour can seep into another. Interestingly seepage of colour also interests Barbara Howey. However, Femke wants to achieve a natural flow and intuitive movement in her textile patterns.
Following a career in film set design in London, Laura Huston moved back to her native Norfolk in 2012 to bring up her young family and to make ceramics. Laura concentrates on functional stoneware and has made a specialism of colour and pattern. She has developed a distinctive style, experimenting with different glazes and forms, and relief pattern with the use of sgraffito.
She has shown two series of works at GroundWork. At first she used a lot of colour and pattern. Ironically however, by the time of this exhibition, she reduced her palette considerably. She has become much more interested in sculptural shapes and strong sgrafitto decorative effects.
Master glassblower and founder of London Glassworks, which has recently relocated to Chatteris in Cambridgeshire. Stewart is an award-winning designer, with over 20 years specialising in traditional glass-blowing skills. He applies this both to work of domestic scale and to spectacular display pieces. He has shown regularly at Contemporary Applied Arts in London and frequently exhibits nationally and internationally.
Narratives are suggested by his choice of titles, or the forms and colours he chooses. A love of colour gives his work characteristic vibrancy.
Stewart also showed a spectacular collection of Thames Water Bottles in our exhibition, Water Rising. His work, often produced in series, is widely collected.