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© Adrienne Hunter

© Adrienne Hunter

An artistic, dynamic collaboration

The Blackshed Gallery is slightly outside Hastings, near Robertsbridge, and can be a bit of a treasure hunt to find – but worth it when you do. Over the years renowned, local artists have exhibited there: Alan Rankle, Danny Pockets, Robert Sample, Chris Milton and father and daughter Andrew and Eden Kotting, And now another couple are exhibiting together, husband and wife Nick Snelling and Adrienne Hunter.

They work in studios at the bottom of their garden alongside each other. They loosely showed  together at Coastal Currents Open Studios. Nick’s hut splattered with oil paint, pots of paint, paint brushes, polaroids eerywhere and the smell of paint. Adrienne’s space – though no less  creative – is more restrained as she draws rather than paints, working  instinctively and urgently, making gestural  marks as she lays down colour and charcoal. Nick’s technique is layering paint and scraping back – no less vital, but artistically messier. Their huts point up their artistic and personality differences as well as unintentional similarities..

This is the first time they have formally exhibited together. Someone suggested that they exhibited together and after the first reaction of trepidation they warmed to the idea, then a collaboration suddenly seemed an obvious idea. Why hadn’t they thought of it before? It was somewhat of an experiment as to how the two different artistic styles would complement each other. Adrienne admits “the idea was intriguing and a little unsettling.”

Nick and Adrienne are both drawn to the local coastline where the cliffs, sea and sky, that liminal point where the cliffs, sea and sky merge. They both love living on the coast and swimming in the sea; they swim most of the year. Nick often taking his camera for a swim to record the land from the sea as the waves ebb and flow, toss and turn him. It can be an unsettling, stomach churning experience watching the resulting films.  

Nick’s palette of colours are ochres, umbers, blues and greens found around the Sussex coastline. Adriennehas a more monochromatic approach which emphasises the movement of the landscape. One would enhance the other, they thought.

 

Immerse © Nick Snelling

Immerse © Nick Snelling

They chose the  luminous, dramatic chalk cliffs of Birling Gap as the  subject of their collaboration. The first preparatory trips were made in late September 2018, when an Indian summer provided intense Mediterranean colours. Both artists swam in the sea and saw the dazzling cliffs with their subtle ochre tones reflected in the turquoise sea, becoming liquid and elusive. The sky above the cliffs was an intense indigo. It was all about the warm colours, the reflections, the light.

 An overnight trip five weeks later offered a very different landscape. There was a sense of foreboding. The cliffs loomed above, the threat of a landslide implied, while low tide revealed melancholy acres of seaweed-covered chalk and flint. It was all about the shapes, the vast space and a sense of time.

 In this particular landscape, time is no longer abstract but spelt out viscerally in the sharp lines of flint, embedded in the chalk cliffs, layer upon layer, and in the rock slides seen at intervals along the beach. The cliffs are on the move as is the beach; the sea; the houses on the cliff in danger of slipping into the sea. A precarious, melodramatic landscape

 So did the collaboration bring up something new, different, other?

Adrienne had moved into colour with a more painterly approach. Nick, for his part, found himself adopting riskier, more gestural techniques, pouring paint, wet on wet, approaching the work in a more uninhibited way. There is a feeling of techniques becoming freer as their individual approaches have been allowed to flow across the boundaries from one to the other. They have taken something from each other while remaining distinctly individual. Adrienne explains that,  “inevitably, living together there is an empathy and that, subconsciously, seems to have developed into the work as a subtle conversation. This has been exciting and liberating for both of us with unforeseen developments in our approach to our work.”  

He said, She said is on at the blackShed Gallery, Russet Farm, Redlands Lane, Robertsbridge, East Sussex.TN32 5NG until 16 March, 2019. Open Tuesday-Friday 10am-4.00pm Saturday 10-.4.30.

Posted 16:53 Saturday, Feb 9, 2019 In: Visual Arts

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