'I see a thousand paintings in the natural world around me'
- Credit: Courtesy of Clare Wilde
Thaxted artist Dr Clare Wilde has a passion to provide a unique perspective on the stunning landscapes of our county’s countryside.
The Essex landscape is traditionally underrated by artists, often in favour of more classically romantic areas. If people do paint Essex, it's the obviously cute bits. The listed buildings, the agricultural fields, the quaint villages. Yet swathes of Essex have a romantic beauty all of their own - a quiet, magical bleakness with a gentle and peaceful ancient heart that you have to stop and be aware with all your senses to experience.
I have lived in the county for most of my life, and walked or ridden thousands of miles here. I am intimately involved with our storm-bruised skies, blazing summer sunsets, the hazelly-brick clay and the history of the land – where mammoth’s teeth were dug up, Iron Age sites nestle in the landscape, decayed Roman roads cross green lanes and grand manor houses remain a testimony to a different age.
My latest series of work is deliberately on a small scale in order to ask people to really look, to draw their attention in to quiet, dream-like vistas that first appear relatively empty, but are filled with detail and colour. I am seeking to evoke, rather than describe, and asking you to attend more closely to the easily-overlooked and really experience it. I want to take a still-life approach to the essence of the world around us. I hope that through being asked to notice deep beauty in these simple lines, people may learn to look more slowly and carefully at the world around them, and perhaps develop a deeper respect and love for the land instead of seeing it simply as a commodity.
I spend a great deal of time outside and every day I see a thousand paintings in the changing shape and light of one cloud, casting shadows on the meadow below; the light in a puddle with birds’ footprints in the mud beneath, in a field that once had a name or the kaleidoscopic colours of a single tree. I am constantly aware of how connected I am to the land, and how insignificant. If I spend the rest of my life painting, I will never have time to come close to trying to evoke the beauty around me.
I make many of my own paints and use as many natural materials as possible, particularly pigments dug from the earth, to paint the earth. I use ochres dug from the 7,000-year-old mines at Clearwell Caves at Epping, Suffolk chalks, ground slate greys and powdered English willow charcoal, to name a few. Handling materials that have been used by generations of painters for thousands of years is an alchemical process.
You can see more of Clare’s work on her website at www.clarewilde.com