Easterly Artists on the radio

Jon Wright – BBC Radio Suffolk

On 22 November 2022, Jon Wright of BBC Radio Suffolk dedicated a large part of his “Tuesday Take-Over” show to Easterly Artists’ Winter exhibition “Art for all Seasons”, spending over 2 hours of the programme in discussion with 10 of the participating artists about their work both in and outside the exhibition, the ideas behind that work and their practice in general.

Thanks to Jon’s skill as a seasoned journalist and interviewer, well-accustomed to putting people at ease while at the same time asking sometimes quite searching questions, the results provide a fasinating insight into the thinking of those members: what makes them “tick”, what they hope to achieve and what their work means to them – together with their favourite music tracks.

Click here to listen to the programme and hear the interviews, at BBC Sounds.

Click here for more details of “Art for all Seasons”.

See below for a list of the featured artists, in the order in which they appear in the show. Click on the title below each image for a link to that artist’s own page.

Bill Haward is a retired architect who comes from an Ipswich family with a strong interest in the visual arts. He lives at Reydon close to the East coast and gently rolling Suffolk countryside. While he has always been keen on drawing for his professional work and general enjoyment, he has recently developed a collage technique to complement this.

The four pictures he has included in “Art for all Seasons” relate to local places in different seasons. His preoccupation with townscape includes its context in the natural world. The two Norwich pictures show the variety of the urban scenery in this fine city while, in the other two pictures, the landscape setting has a stronger influence.

Tricia Davidson studied Printed Textiles with the designer and painter Robert Stewart at Glasgow School of Art, where she learned about colour, painting and printmaking – almost always using the natural world as source.

She comments: “The paintings I’ve selected for this show are in response to the natural world and the use of colour. I make drawings on site, quite loose, and then make colour notes: not necessarily those I plan to use in the paintings, but in reference to feelings.”

In Simon Wilde’s work, layers of paint are built up and scratched back, creating a visual archaeology of colour and form which acts as a gateway to apparition. Mystical figures and magical landscapes emerge from the paint encouraging a discourse with the viewer.

The two pieces in the exhibition are from a series of paintings inspired by the pre-Platonic era vision of the Underworld, presided over by Hades. They derive from the earliest ancient Greek myth about the after-life, where Man’s essence is stripped from the corpse and transported to the Underworld, with the dead indiscriminately grouped together in a shadowy post-existence in this invisible realm.

Sewing skills acquired early in Angelique Fraser-Mackenzie’s life generated a fascination with fabrics of all shades and designs, which often now appear in her abstract collages, multi-media prints and water colours. With inspiration coming from areas as diverse as fabric designs and the natural world, her main interest is in exploring abstract shapes and how they invoke different emotions, depending on colour, texture and form.

The unfamiliar shapes and contrasts seen in her work may at first appear alien, just as a foreign language or music might, but curiosity, imagination and a little patience bring the reward – a change of perspective, an insight or even bewilderment! A second glance and perhaps the mind is hijacked into another short journey of colour and thought.

Christopher Milham started painting professionally twelve years ago, exhibiting mainly in Kent. Subsequently moving to Suffolk’s Blyth Valley, he has been inspired by the light and the surrounding area and now paints from his own studio/gallery at Henstead Arts & Crafts Centre.

He comments: “Working mainly in oils or water colours and with simplified lines, marks and shapes of both coastline and landscape, I’m inspired to capture and paint as an emotional response to the vast East Anglian skies and the clouds which drift across the open land and sea.”

When painting landscapes, Hilary Barry is engaged with seasonal changes and the pulses of life emanating from the natural environment. She focuses on the impermanent nature of the current climate, and the buried history under our earth.

There is no initial drawing in her process, although she usually returns to a painting and repaints, building up the marks with more layers of glaze or paint. Her use of sketches and photographs is enhanced by memories, adding to the suggestion of fleeting moments in time and space. Oil paint is applied, then sections are removed and textures invented. The layering is about memory, life, and painting time.

Paul Zawadzki paints mainly in oils on canvas or hessian, enhancing pigments with natural materials like sand and sawdust, as well as using varnish, dust and rusted steel to capture the spirit of the landscape. There is a love of spontaneity in his approach – enthusiastically embracing the ‘happy accident’ by dripping, blotting and splashing paint while retaining an element of traditional landscape painting in the final stages.

As an artist and musician, Paul includes an element of synesthesia in his work (whereby he sees colours in sound and music), which helps him in his other role as an electronic music composer under the name of “Sineflesh” – the two sides of his practice support and influence each other.

Clare Johnson works with print, representing industrial buildings in the way she sees them: as beautiful examples of how form is created around function. She shows them in bright colours against very blue skies, seeking to make them look a little like old postcards – hence the printed titles.

Her prints are made from photographs which she then bitmaps to resemble old printing techniques. The black dots are screen-printed and the colours are all mono prints, with each one produced separately. This allows her to vary the colours, and sometimes use completely different tints.

Marilyn Jackson’s work draws on the interrelationship between the observed world and the inner world of imagination, impulse and feelings. She uses experimentation with materials as a starting point for development of imagery, with mono-print, digital image manipulation, collage and dye and resist being her preferred methods for initial engagement in her work.

Her work in “Art for all Seasons” is part of her constant fascination with the representation of women in myth and legend, and their role – on the one hand – as the nurturing mother/Earth goddess and – on the other – as the agent of chaos releasing evil into the world, or the temptress luring men to their doom. A split personality.

For the last six years, Geoff Litchfield’s work has largely been in the field of collage, allowing him to explore ideas quickly whilst still allowing themes, often political or autobiographical in content, to develop over time. A fascination with the book as an art-form, along with linear and non-linear narratives is frequently in evidence.

He works in both analogue and digital formats, frequently combining the two forms into a mixed media outcome. He often works on several pieces at any one time, not wishing them to be particularly tied to any certain style and preferring them to develop organically at their own rate. Consequently, some pieces can be completed in under two hours whilst others have been spread over a two-year period