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‘Secrets from the Greenhouse’ by Linda Williams

HOT’s Judy Parkinson met up with Hastings-based artist Linda Williams while she put the finishing touches to her new exhibition at The Crown.

‘Secrets from the Greenhouse’ is an ongoing art project which Linda Williams began in 2022 during a six-month botanical study in Lisbon.  The title of the exhibition is inspired by a Victorian greenhouse in Jardim Botanico, Lisbon’s botanical garden.

“The small greenhouse was always closed, but I was attracted to its lovely simple shape,” recalls Linda. “I could see overgrown plants and debris when I peered through a cracked window. As I couldn’t enter, I was intrigued, and I began to imagine what might be inside. Over the course of my stay, I built up a body of abstract and line-work taking inspiration from the surrounding gardens, parks and the greenhouse itself.”

The Jardim Botanico was laid out between 1858 and 1878 and reputed to be one of the most impressive botanical gardens in Europe.  It contained about 20,000 exotic species of sub-tropical plants and trees brought back from Portugal’s colonies and trading hubs around the world from China, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.

Linda already knew and loved Portugal having spent four years there before college.  Her recent sabbatical in Lisbon allowed her to immerse herself in art, nature and the local community. She completed a masterclass course learning the Bargue method, a technique created by 19th century French artist Charles Bargue employing an ultra-disciplined approach to drawing.

“My brain hated it,” remembers Linda. “The tutor was very strict, which you must be.  I managed to complete a drawing and when I see it now, I think, did I do that?  The finished article is amazing.” Once she had mastered the rules of drawing, she regularly loosened up at the Lisbon Life Drawing Club.

Linda’s love for nature, objects of simplicity and architectural shapes are at the heart of her practice. She is known for her minimalistic and monochrome work.  She likes to mix and work with many media, especially oil crayon. “I like mixing paints, anything I can get my hands on and build up layers.”

Linda stumbled across Hastings after a camping trip in Rye. “I loved it and kept coming back, always pulled back by the sea.” She set up her design studio Obiko in 2010 in Hastings to make luxury stationery which now sells worldwide. In 2015 she changed direction, concentrating on minimal hand-drawn designs and developed her fine art practice. The works on display in The Crown this autumn include small line paintings and abstracts, and large layered images on paper derived from her Lisbon sketches.

To find out more: Instagram: @obikodesign

Secrets from the Greenhouse: an exhibition of paintings by Linda Williams. The Crown, 64-66 All Saints’ Street, Hastings TN34 3BN. 1-30 November, open 7 days a week, 11am–11pm (10.30pm on Sundays).

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Posted 18:44 Thursday, Nov 2, 2023 In: Arts News

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