Simon Carter Residency: in Wivenhoe Park

“I try to make images that are arrived at through paint; it’s about being aware of what paint will do but not being aware of it; of searching but finding something else…image and paint bound together.”

During the spring and summer months of 2014, Simon Carter was in residence at Art Exchange, focusing on the landscape of Wivenhoe Park and making a response to John Constable’s painting of the park in the summer of 1816. Today you can still walk in the footsteps of Constable and nearly 200 years later, the essence of this Essex parkland remains remarkably the same.

Simon Carter is a painter poised between representation and abstraction. For him, painting is a daily practice embedded in drawing and re-drawing the same motifs directly from daily life. These sketches are the starting point for a process of painting which reduces the seemingly chaotic patterns of nature to a series of orderly geometric lines, shapes and harmonising colours.

“In a sketch”, John Constable once said, “there is nothing but the one state of mind – that which you were in at the time.”

Both Constable and Simon Carter are artists whose work is rooted in the observation of a limited theme or restricted geographical region. Sketching plays an important role in their work having an immediacy of response to place and the changing effects of sunlight and shadow on the landscape and, in the process re-interpreting the English countryside.

A selection of Simon Carter’s sketches and completed canvases inspired by Constable were on display at Art Exchange during the autumn to mark the start of the University of Essex’s 50th anniversary celebrations through it’s association with one of England’s most famous artists.

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