Learning to make sense of what my camera recorded in relation to what my eyes saw has helped me to interpret other photographs of the aurora, and to use them to gain a fuller understanding of the kind of forms and colours it can take. Seeing the aurora is a remarkable experience which has a profound effect on the viewer. The challenges for a painter trying to evoke the aurora are manifold: not only are its otherworldly qualities of light and colour to be captured, but also its slow, graceful, solemn movements, its exquisitely tremulous delicacy of form and the sheer vastness of its scale.
Painting the Aurora Landscape, abstraction, colour and light have long been the dominant themes of my painting. Nellim 1 Torassieppi 2. Aurora Borealis, Inari to Nellim Roa 14 October Nellim, Finland.
Torasieppi, Finland. Fig 5.
Aurora, Nellim, 25 March, Aurora, Nellim, 28 March Paper Typerwriter,by Jennifer Collier Vintage typewriter manual pages, gray board, and machine stitching. Reading and Interpretation VIII,by Pablo Lehmann Photographic print cut out with text. The Baron in the Trees,by Su Blackwell Secondhand book, lights, glass, and wood box.
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Click here to purchase Art Made From Books from Chronicle. Skip to header Skip to main content Skip to footer Captured. by Loren Talbot. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via Email. When I look at a reproduction of this painting after all these years, I feel surprisingly shaken and unnerved. It seems to be an expression of an inner desolation and aloneness that I now recognise to have run below the levels of my conscious awareness since childhood.
That it should give itself form in that way I find remarkable. The drying up of stained-glass commissions at the end of coincided with, and perhaps helped prompt, a sudden urge to return to painting. Over the next twelve months there was an outpouring of bleak, wild, desolate landscapes, but this time with no evidence of human presence.
I knew with certainty what I wanted to paint and was both surprised and delighted to find that I could do it. In the studio I felt a growing confidence, intensity, and independence.
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It all felt deeply exciting and as if parts of me that had been unlived were coming into bloom. These were my first real experiences of wild and sublime landscape and they impacted me profoundly. It all felt like a whole wonderful new world and the intensity of the feelings associated with those experiences is evident in the work.
The sense of new possibilities that I experienced both in the studio and in those early connections with wild landscape, were in stark contrast to my childhood and teenage years where so often I felt smothered, unseen, lost and inadequate.
Life seemed to have a background colouring of heaviness and anxiety. To have those paintings admired at that early stage by such an esteemed figure in the London art world as Andras Kalman was an enormous encouragement and confirmation that I had begun to find my own identity as a painter.
That intense first response to landscape then expressed itself in a series of paintings of fire Fig. Up until now I have not known quite what to make of these paintings and so for many years wrote them out of my mental map of my journey as a painter; they just seemed too disturbing.
But now, three decades on, they make more sense. They have something of an alchemical quality about them and form a natural bridge between those first landscapes and the powerfully energetic and gestural brush work of the paintings that followed.
Given also that so much of my work has an elemental focus it was perhaps inevitable that I would at some point paint fire, alongside all the earth, water and air. For the next two decades I continued to paint landscape exploring the terrain between abstraction and figuration. Generally, the direction of travel was from more gestural and energetic abstract works Fig. Once our children were born long-distance walks in remote places became a thing of the past.
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Instead I would take daily short walks down the lanes and through the fields and woods near our home and there were family holidays in beautiful parts of Devon and Wales. I felt a deep love for the natural world, and often experienced an ache of tenderness and wonder at the things I saw: reflections in the pond in the old orchard, the cycle of the seasons, the first star appearing over the hill and the ever- changing light.
Nicholas Jones - Northwich
I was deeply touched by the sight of falling snow and frost on the grass, the return of the first swallows and the moon hanging in the twilit sky. We are the bees of the invisible.
We wildly collect the honey of the visible, to store it in the great golden hive of the invisible. I also hoped that those visible expressions might enable others to see with fresh eyes.
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Over those two decades the painting process continued to feel very empowering and gave me a sense of self that was lacking in the rest of life. Looking back, I can now see that in those early gestural and vigorous abstract works I was connecting with, and learning to channel and express, a powerful inner energy in a safe environment.
I could be spontaneous, direct, full of feeling, fearlessly experimental and free from the paralysing need to always be taking other people into consideration.
As my inner and outer life became more troubled and painful over time, so my paintings gradually became ever more serene and calm. I seemed to be searching for a quiet and spacious beauty and simplicity; a refuge of calm, silence and stillness Fig.
As those qualities were largely missing from my external and inner life, the paintings became a kind of compensation or attempt at balancing things out. It is a principle that makes sense of much of my work and sheds light on many of the hidden currents that have shaped its direction. When I later travelled to Finnish Lapland in pursuit of the Aurora, I found the Arctic landscape staggeringly lovely.
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It was almost as if I had entered into the physical embodiment of that place of quiet, spacious beauty and simplicity that I longed for and was seeking to evoke on canvas. It felt so familiar; a world of water, trees and sky, silent and empty, bathed in the purest of lights. The stillness was so extraordinary.
I can feel it even now. At an intellectual level I used to explain my interest in the Aurora in formal terms. For an artist interested in abstraction, landscape, colour and light, I reasoned, the Northern Lights were a natural and wonderful subject matter. And indeed, in the Aurora, those four themes did come together in a sublimely beautiful way.
It was for me a time of increasing turmoil and difficulty and I longed for inner peace and harmony. Deeper still I was being pulled by a more paradoxical current. On the one hand there was an unconscious longing to be drawn out of myself into something bigger as is commonly experienced by people witnessing the Aurora 3. It is worth noting also that the Aurora paintings were by far the most figurative landscapes I had painted in twenty-five years.
They were also the first in that time to have any indication of a human presence, even if that amounted to little more than a fire on a distant shore in only three of the works Fig. Up to that point it would have been inconceivable to me to contemplate including any sense of human presence and so the bonfires themselves came as something of a surprise to me.
That said, it was insightfully pointed out to me recently that the small single spots of light or colour that frequently appeared as focal points in my paintings prior to the Aurora work could also be read as subtle indications of human presence.
This deep yearning for solitude is naturally part of the terrain for someone like me who is far down the introvert end of the spectrum. Though relationships with others are precious to me and I find them comforting and stimulating, extended periods of time spent in company can be very draining.
Like all introverts I am most energised by time spent alone. That however is not the full explanation of that longing for solitude.
Clinging to each other in the dark foreground sit two naked figures. When I look at a reproduction of this painting after all these years, I feel surprisingly shaken and unnerved. It seems to be an expression of an inner desolation and aloneness that I now recognise to have run below the levels of my conscious awareness since childhood Nicholas Jones, defending, said: "Nicholls says that the deterioration of his marriage was the reason why he turned to pornography on the internet and soon developed a pornography addiction by Tradesman Robert Hughes, 48, befriended his 'timid' victim Nicholas Jones, 57; father-of-three Hughes threatened Mr Jones with a photo of him supposedly sunbathing naked in his back garden
My rather underdeveloped sense-of-self and the porous boundaries that come with it are a more significantly complicating factor in my interactions with others. Over the years I have often been unclear about where I end and another begins. Depending on who the other is that can leave me feeling exposed and in danger of being swallowed up or losing myself.
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It is perhaps therefore not surprising that in my paintings I have been unconsciously creating spaces that are blissfully free of that risk. I took that approach to a whole new level in the Arctic paintings that followed those of the Aurora.
The deep connection I felt with the landscapes of Northern Finland and the purity of its light stirred a desire in me to travel higher into the Arctic Circle and experience its vast emptiness and sublime grandeur. In preparation for my Arctic Residency with the friends of the Scott Polar Research Institute, I spent 18 months working on series of paintings in which I explored this growing fascination with the Far North and tried to sift out what exactly the appeal was.
The mesmerising qualities of Arctic light and the extraordinary ways it interacts with ice and snow became the primary focus. Many of the works focussed on the remarkable variety of optical phenomena that occur in arctic skies, and which evoke for me a sense of mystery and spiritual presence: solar and lunar rings, halos, and coronas, and the fog-bows, cloud-bows and rainbows that arc across Arctic skies.
On an emotional and instinctive level, the fascination with Arctic landscape, was for me also an expression of a deep desire to escape from feeling smothered, limited and constrained and to break out into infinite space and light; to become free of that sense of oppression, and to be able to access an inner landscape of similarly spacious purity and grandeur. The two weeks I spent in Greenland and Baffin Island exceeded all my hopes and expectations.
I found it exhilarating to be immersed in an environment made up of the simplest ingredients: ice, water, rock and light. Freed from the many distractions of normal life I felt an unusual clarity of mind and an increasing connection to the rhythms and wonder of the natural world.
Not surprisingly the large body of work that flowed from it has a particular intensity. The fascination with the icy world of the Arctic can be explained at many different levels. Perhaps the most obviously Jungian is to see it as a reflection of a desire to connect with the parts of myself that had become frozen through the inevitable woundings of childhood. Strangely, and rather wonderfully, something shifted and softened in me whilst I was actually in the Arctic. At a symbolic level I find icebergs to be beautiful images of trust, surrender and letting go, all qualities that I aspire to.
Once an iceberg has calved from the glacier or ice shelf from which it was formed, it trusts itself to the elements; the wind, waves and ocean currents. It may for a while be grounded in water too shallow to support its immensity, but in time it will be carried out to sea on the ocean currents allowing itself to be shaped and sculpted by the flow of time, tide, wind and weather.
I find icebergs extraordinarily beautiful and moving to look at. They seem so composed and contained, utterly at ease and wonderfully responsive to the changing light and colour of the sea. Frederick Edwin Church, the great Luminist painter, considered icebergs to be the very embodiment of light in nature.
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Over time an iceberg gradually thaws, breaks up and releases the sediment that it has been carrying and so enriches the ocean bed. Though the form of an iceberg is continually being altered by the elements, the berg quite naturally maintains its balance, sometimes rotating dramatically in the water to reveal parts of itself that had long been submerged, and thus regains its equipoise. Ultimately, however, it surrenders itself into something bigger - the greater flow and oneness from which it came.
It has taken some time for the symbolic significance that I attach to the Arctic and to icebergs in particular, to come into focus. I now sense that an inner work of expanding, thawing and letting go has been quietly going on in the background as I worked on my Arctic paintings.