Landscape Revisited :
Alison Chapman- Andrews
Location: Morningside Gallery, Barbados Community College
Opening reception: November 13th, 2013
Exhibition dates: November 13th to November 29th, 2013
Artist talk: November 20th, 2013
ABOUT THE ARTIST
After completing studies at the Walthamstow School of Art and the royal College of Art in London, Alison moved to Barbados in 1971. In addition to being a renowned painter, most closely associated with the Barbadian landscape, Alison was an art educator, teaching at St. Michael School for 18 years. She was the first vice-president of the Art Collection Foundation, and the author of the Nation Newspaper art column, “Galerie” for 7 years from 1989-1996. She has exhibited widely and is the recipient of the Collector’s Club’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
My search for a new subject included the swimsuits, robes of power, Celtic circles. Each complete, they did not show the way forward. Usually each painting, or series, seems magically to carry within it the germ of the next. But nothing happened. So I abandoned the search for something‘new‘ and returned to my first inspiration – the Barbadian landscape, its trees, its plants, its patterns.
Yet there was a difference. Instead of the real landscape, I went to my past paintings and drawings, long forgotten in my sketchbooks. Where before I’d spent hours drawing I now took photographs of the same spot. Often things had changed. Gullies and gardens were overgrown and unrecognizable, farming methods changed the scene. For instance the gully near Sugar Hill has been flooded, presumably for irrigation, and although the royal palms trees amazingly survived, the tiny stream has gone. The painting that resulted, Returning Rainy Season is a mixture of the new watery reality and previous abstractions. This duality of realistic reflections and flat decoration is not resolved, another try is called for.
Each group in this exhibition series reinterprets a past work except for group 1 where I painted some on the spot from the veranda at Martins Bay. This does not fit with the exhibition theme, but as they are recent, not shown work, they are included. In group 2 the original drawings at Friendship Plantation, never led to a painting. Well I did one and cut it up. Friendship Fragment is all that remains. Yellow Hillaby and its sketch, Green Hillaby is new but reminiscent of what I couldn’t do thirty years ago. In producing Burnt Hillaby I remembered a film seen as a student, of a volcano erupting, wonderful colour and full of the life force. This contains neither, a dying world.
The three primary colours in one piece is an idea I’ve been exploring since 2006. In this exhibition each primary colour is a theme for a group. While blue and yellow spawn multiples, blue 3 yellow 4, only red is a single new work: Red Coconut, perhaps because many ideas were included in this single painting. My favourite idea in Red Coconut is the green sun/coconut (green being the opposite colour of red). The composition was inspired by drawings leading to the two works shown from 1996 of the same motif. However, in Jasper Sea the colors are reversed with pink sea and yellow beach, not red. In the new work the trunk is more realistic, no longer just decorative triangles, so again we see the fight/balance between real and abstract in one image. It’s a worry to me that it does not succeed totally. My continual search for a successful personal outcome is what it seems to be about. All I can do is keep making, composing, and working. I chose this path, but where it leads, no one knows.
SELECT WORK FROM LANDSCAPE REVISITED
Chapman-Andrews keeps an extensive collection of sketchbooks.
As this exhibition focuses on revisiting previous motifs and subject matter, it was clear that her sketchbooks should be included. The sketchbooks are vital to her practice and provide insight to how her images develop.
This video, projected on a table at the center of the exhibition, allowed viewers to "uncover" the artist's process.