July 2012 – Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80cm
El verano en la costa de Cantabria
L’été sur la côte de Cantabrie
The exuberance of the wild flowers growing alongside the cliffs & that uplifting feeling you can get from the timelessness of certain places is what inspired me to paint this. When painting is going well I can even get those same trancelike moments that are similar to those of the initial experience despite no longer actually being there. I suppose that’s one of the reasons I want to paint – it’s a bit like being in another place that I’m revisiting in my imagination.
When I was painting this it also even made me remember some of those scenes in the wildflowers books of the “Ladybird” series – millions of British children between maybe the 1940s & the 1970s must have been influenced by them – they seem to have been in just about all schools & libraries as far as I remember. Even by the time I was looking at them though, the pictures seemed to be speaking of a past that no longer quite existed. Which is why I suppose it still amazes me when I experience what feels to be an almost nostalgic scene. Yet the stretch of coast that this is inspired by is NOT just something of the past – it exists in the here & now & like many places, needs to be valued, especially given that it’s not far from others where everything has become obliterated by a sprawl of concrete urban developement.
Natural spaces need to be seen by more people in the light of being a contemporary issue. When they are not totally disregarded in the sense of not even being noticed or else seen as empty space that is being wasted for not being “developed”, they are at best often regarded as simply something that really belongs to the past, where perhaps certain priveleged places are allowed a certain protection. If we only see nature in a box & as some sort of nostalgia trip then we’ve given up on our future ( we humans are also “nature” after all!)- which is why I think “nature” also needs to be more present in contemporary art. Urban art is not necessarily any more real or valid than non urban, it just so happens that more of us lead urban lives & that’s what we experience or relate to more readily. In the meantime, there is a whole world of biodiversity out there that we can’t live without even if we don’t get to see it too often (or never in some peoples’ cases.)