'There is nothing as mysterious as fact clearly described' Gary Winogrand
"David Hockney may be the painter everybody's talking about, but he's just one of many artists in Britain engaged in rejuvenating landscape painting. Celia de Serra is another. 'Beaten Track', her painting of woods encroaching on an Iron Age fort in Shropshire, is a case in point. It may not be revolutionary in it's subject matter, but the angle at which it's tilted - reminiscent of a snapshot from a hand held camera - gives it a distinctly modern feel. There are no human beings in sight, but we do see some human footprints, leading the viewer round a corner at what feels like speed. The action of sunlight on the trees makes them seem to vibrate, and the path writhes - all adding to the sense of propulsion and a slight feeling of unease. "The woods are lovely, dark and deep," wrote Robert Frost: few tell of their mystery better than de Serra."
What to buy, The Week 12th March 2012
Statement from Under the Greenwood: Picturing the British Tree
My focus on drawing trees began incidentally to a project I had been working on describing paths and tracks. These structures seemed stylistically and compositionally useful throwing up interesting ideas including notions of narrative via journeys. It then became apparent that these journeys were leading me imaginatively back to an early preoccupation I had with the lives and stories of Northern European woodlands.
Woodlands are crammed full of visual ideas. They are dynamic spaces broken by chaotic forms and shifting light; a curious sense of stillness and movement, space and enclosure. There is too much information here for the brain/eye to process, it demands attention and time and to be captured somehow, and I am reminded of the 'Desert Seen' series by Lee Friedlander. His images of Cacti and tree stumps are a faithful and forensic record, and become something quite entirely 'other'.
The 'point' of a pencil is subliminally incisive, more so than painting, and more akin to photography perhaps; an unravelling and remaking of each tiny piece of the image, bringing a closer affinity to the woodland subject matter. The process of drawing sparks a greater capacity for sensitivity and involvement, a deepness of tone or lightness of touch in pristine monochrome, unconfused by a cloak of colour. Like a photograph, the image is a fragment preserved and springs from an urge to preserve, but something else too - a thing in itself, a soulful experiment in mark-making, tone and form.
My eye is the lens with which I choose to shift and tilt perspective, my intention being to re-frame and re-see the forest, to challenge how we see things and our relationship with our environment. As Paul Caponigro says: 'Photography is a medium, a language, through which I might come to experience directly, live more closely with, the interaction between myself and nature'.