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© John Cole

© Peter Waldron (photograph by John Cole)

A colourful breath of Crete

The Hastings museum is a wonderful place for fossicking around, you never know what you might find – old photographs of Hastings, bird and mammal species alongside Inuit and north American Indian artefacts. So imagine HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths’ surprise, walking upstairs to the Upper Gallery and into sunshine and light.

The exhibition, Louloudia, is Peter Waldron’s reflections on Crete. Since 1989 he has split his time between Hastings and Crete and this exhibition is his packaged breath of sunshine and Crete in Louloudia – flowers.

© John Cole

© Peter Waldron (photograph by John Cole)

There is a joy and celebration of nature in these flowers. A symphony of colour, light blue, yellow, red. In some paintings the paper background is painted again and again, ostensibly white but, look closely, there are chinks of colour peeking through. In other paintings the petals are heavily painted almost into 3-D. They have a childlike,  playfulness about them ­ – almost like children’s seaside windmills. However, these are not pretty, pretty flower depictions.

There is a shadow of black that intrudes. A darkness that lurks in the background or, rather in these paintings, the foreground – the black and the white, negative and positive.

In 2016 Heraklion Museum in Crete had a themed exhibition about Zeus. Waldron visited the caves on the slopes of Mount Ida where baby Zeus is reputed to have been hidden to protect him from his murderous father, Cronus. Out of the experience of the caves came a series of dark and cave-like drawings.

© John Cole

© Peter Waldron (photograph by John Cole)

Waldron’s art is constantly changing and evolving. So “after completing that series I felt I needed to break free and to somehow liberate myself.” Hence the flower drawings.

The flowers are not quite abstract nor quite figurative. “I work unconsciously between the two. I am painting the mirror of my own experience as I go through life. I think it gives me the freedom in which to explore and to express the way I feel.” He explains visual and written language are different languages. “Art is not illustration or a direct representation of the world. To paint what you don’t know is art”.

However black is still in the ether and it dominates some, not all, of the paintings. There are some heavily worked black flowers, amongst and on top of the grouping, dominating the exuberance of the other flowers.

© John Cole

© Peter Waldron (photograph by John Cole)

I might be making too much of the presence of black. I like its intrusion, it gives a depth and another perspective to the paintings. The darkness reflects balance, the yin and yang – the dark and feminine yin, the positive, bright, masculine yang; the interconnection and interdependence of the natural world.

This is an exhibition of colour: a celebration of black and colour. As Waldron says “what I want to capture is the magic of Crete, its energy, vitality and clarity.” And that is what you see –  a breath of Cretan summer.

The Louloudia series of drawings was first shown as part of an exhibition, Odyssey, at Swindon Museum and Art Gallery.

The exhibition is on at the Hastings Museum and Art Gallery,
John’s Place, Bohemia Rd, Hastings TN34 1ET until 25 February 2018.
Opening times  Tuesday-Saturday 10am-5pm.
Sunday 12am-5pm.
Closed Monday.

 

Posted 14:25 Wednesday, Jan 17, 2018 In: Visual Arts

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