I visited this exhibition “Place: Kurt Jackson.” (Victoria Art Gallery, 2015) on December 30th 2015, just before it closed. The weather was awful, dark, grey and raining hard. Even the Bath stone was grey.
The works were hung in two rooms, the second larger than the first, which was a sort of anteroom and gave an immediate impression of the style, scale and colour of what was to come.
The first room was devoted to a series of paintings of Glastonbury Festival. For the most part the canvases are large and the media mixed, with oil, acrylic and what looked like ink. There are splashes of colour all over the lower four fifths of the works, although some were browner, because the artist used Glastonbury mud as a base colour. The open sky and almost flat horizons helped to emphasise the feeling of a huge spralling space. There were many disorganised coloured triangles – tents. The overall effect is of vibrancy, movement and abandon. The marks made by the brushes, and pens (if that’s what they were) are loose, rapidly made, daubings of colours, squiggles of lines, scartchings.
Figure 1. Glastonbury tents to the tor 2015, mixed media on wood panel 60 x 60cm
Each of the works in the main room arises from the writing of one of the 32 people Jackson approached for a piece about a place of personal importance. The people vary in profession, and their writing varies from scientific, to nostalgic, to descriptive. The scale of the pieces varies from postcard size to large canvases, and there are a small number of sculpted objects.
The first thing to hit me was colour. Bright, zinging yellows and greens, and again, a liberal and undisciplined use of the materials, busy patterns, splashes, a lot of spray paint, splatters, scraffito. Paint is allowed to dribble and drip. Black paint is used against the vivid greens and spring yellows to convey the light and dark in a spring wood.
Figure 2. Wytham birdsong and spring greens. 2013, oil on canvas 92 x 92cm
Figure 3 Bathampton wood tree sqeak and weak sunlight. July 2015, mixed media on paper, 56 x 61cm
A painting of a group of houses and a winding lane interested me because of its more muted palette and softer feel. The subject created a sense of safety, familiarity. The gestures of the paint were more controlled and contained.
Figure 4. Smell of peat smoke, cold wind blowing offshore. Gearrannan black houses. March 2013, mixed media on paper 57x62cm.
The largest canvases were of open landscapes. Imposing places, no people, perhaps a lone bird.
Figure 5. Across to England from Penarth Head. Copper and ochre seas. 2014, mixed media on canvas 183 x 183cm
In the foreground there is gravel taken from the area, and a rubbing of the words of warning taken from an information posting.
Figure 6. A peregrine screams from the cliff tops behind me
The foreground of this work was enhanced by the sticking of periwinkle shells to the canvas. Again, the use of found material, taken from the place.
Many of the paintings have the artist’s words written in graphite, as a sort of reminder, or contextual trigger. The simple ‘collage’ titled Erme, dusk, a collection of objects found in the place and assembled on a piece of driftwood, is, for me, touching and elegant in its simplicity and directness.
Figure 7. Erme, dusk. 2013, mixed media and collage on driftwood 22 x 35cm.
Images 1 – 7 from online catalogue
Victoria Art Gallery. (2015). Place: Kurt Jackson. [Exhibition]. Bath. [Visited 30/12/15]