Islesolation gallery

The De Fortibus Gallery Archive

In this gallery we welcome the festival of islesolation with a series of exhibitions by guest curators. visit a new exhibition every fortnight. If you would like to be guest curator please get in touch.

This exhibition has been curated by local artist Andrew Hird enjoy exploring some paintings and artists that influence his work, take a walk through art history and discover something to inspire you.

Andrew Hird is a contemporary figurative painter of landscapes, cities and the English coast. Andrew holds regular solo exhibitions in London, and has exhibited at the Mall Galleries, Chelsea Art Society, Patchings Festival, and Royal Society of Marine Artists. He won the inaugural Royal Institute of Oil Painters “Paint Live” competition in 2015, and The Artist Purchase Prize, Great Art Award and Peoples’ Choice Award at Patchings. He was selected to compete as a featured artist in Sky Arts Landscape Artist of The Year 2019 at Gateshead Millennium Bridge, and his painting was chosen by the Royal Navy for their collection at HMS Calliope. 

Andrew Hird

The Shore – Paul Nash 1923

Probably best known as a second world war artist, Paul Nash was also a painter of British landscapes and to a degree pioneered a modernist style in Britain with elements of abstraction and surrealism. Nash moved to Dymchurch on the Kent coast in 1921 and this painting of the beach depicts areas of water, sand and sea defences with a linearity similar to woodcut prints. The perspective, pastel tones, and strong sense of design create a striking image from a very simple composition.

Sewing the sail – Joaquin Sorolla 1896

Sorolla was a native of Valencia but developed his style in Paris exhibiting with the impressionists at Galerie Georges Petit. His work combines the brilliance and luminosity of impressionism with the compositional soundness of the old masters. Many of his paintings portray life in the sun-drenched Spanish landscape and “Sewing the Sail” typifies this. For any painter it is a masterclass in how to portray light using loose, confident brushwork with dazzling coloration. The painting is also impressive in scale at nearly 10ft across and exudes Mediterranean warmth when seen in the flesh.

The Dog Inn at Ludham – Edward Seago 1965

Born in Norwich, Edward Seago was a self-taught painter somewhat overlooked during his lifetime, but now increasingly recognised. As a child he suffered from a chronic heart condition and often had to rest, in good weather laying in a garden chair studying the sky. Many of his paintings is later life are dominated by sky with the land occupying a narrow strip at the bottom, no doubt influenced by those childhood memories. He was influenced by Constable, Cotman and Munnings, and this is very evident in his depictions of pastoral scenes, animal portraits and the delicacy of his watercolours and oils. This scene of the Dog Inn at Ludham is a case in point, the simple treatment of figures in the landscape, the contra-jour effect of the light, and the masterful expression of typical English weather are captured with great sympathy and skill.

Inez Spender – William Coldstream 1938

Sir William Coldstream was principal of the Slade from 1949 – 1975 and an influencer of several major arts bodies in the mid 20th century. His work is known for careful measurement and control, but until a Tate exhibition in 1990, a few years after his death, he enjoyed little recognition. He associated with the New English Art Club, the London Group and the Euston Road School and influenced a generation of artists devotedly committed to figurative painting. This painting of Inez Spender was commissioned by her husband Stephen Spender and painted in approximately forty sittings between 1937 – 1938. It displays the precision of Coldstream’s painting style with robust brushwork but a delicacy drawn from his considered and reflective approach.

Neidpath Castle – Hercules Brabazon Brabazon

Inspired by Turner and Velasquez, Hercules Brabazon Brabazon was a British watercolourist whose worked influenced Sargent and Wilson Steer, and with their encouragement he was elected to the New English Art Club in 1891. Originally painting as a gentleman amateur, he attracted the attention of John Ruskin who described him as “our finest watercolourist since Turner” and the modernity of his style at the time combined with a luminous, ethereal quality attracted much praise. He travelled widely and painted regularly in Venice, India and the Middle East. His paintings have seen a resurgence of interest since the 1980’s and are now much sought after

Reflection – Lucian Freud 1985

Revered as one of the world’s great realist painters, Lucian Freud was a very private man who worked exclusively from life. His painting style developed over many years and this self-portrait displays the bold expressive brushwork of his later work. Freud painted slowly with intense consideration of his subject, many sitters recount the scrutiny he applied over dozens of sittings. When painting himself he transmits an intimacy unusual in his personal relationships, and the small scale of many pieces (this one is 35 x 25 cms) creates a telescoping effect that draws the viewer in. His treatment of skin is sharply observed and seems to convey the weight and sensitivity without any compromise to flattery of his subjects.

The Grand Canal, Venice – John Singer Sargent c.1902

Painted from a gondola (when that was a more affordable pastime) this simple watercolour shows Sargent’s superb mastery of the medium and his delicacy of touch. Sargent had an association with Venice spanning 30 years and painted the phenomenon that the city represents poised between sky and sea hundreds of times. Venice is saturated with visual treasures and artists have painted there for centuries, iconic names such as Canaletto, Guardi and Turner casting long shadows for artists of succeeding generations. Any painter visiting the city carries on that dialogue with their predecessors. Sargent’s interest in architecture is evident in his paintings, often returning to individual sites to record details, but he does this with an economy of brushwork and a mastery of colour that exudes genius.

Dora at Oriel – Ken Howard 2009

Ken Howard is one of the last Royal Academician’s painting in a traditional impressionist style. He paints from his studios in Venice, Cornwall and London, and this painting of his wife Dora is framed by one of the north facing windows of Oriel, the former studio of William Orpen and now Howard’s London home. His paintings glow with light and have a strong structure and linear quality. He has inspired a generation of plein air painters who continue the art of working on location and painting from life.