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Artist Nick Snelling communing with his painting.

Seeing the wood and the trees

This weekend (Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July) is your last opportunity to visit two complementary exhibitions about the natural environment at Electro Studios Project Space in Seaside Road. Erica Smith goes for a walk in the woods.

Electro Studios Project Space is on the north side of the old bathing pool site in West St Leonards. I associate the area with sea swimming and sun-bathing, particularly during this long, baking hot summer. This makes the current exhibitions by Nick Snelling and Ian Baker even more tempting to visit.

Electro Studios always has a cool feel about it – the internal temperature of the space is permanently lower than the heat of the prom. This exhibition gives you the chance to ‘forest bathe’ amongst the cool green paintings in the ground floor space and in the landing gallery which runs across the first floor of the building.

Nick Snelling at Electro Studios Project Space

On Wood by Nick Snelling is a departure for this established artist. His previous work includes photographs taken with a waterproof camera when he goes sea-swimming and very realistic depictions of the sea in oil paint. The subjects of this exhibition are on dry land – large, loose paintings of trees on wafer thin sheets of wood. Nick admits that his recent work has been influenced by his partner, artist Adrienne Hunter who paints giant calligraphic landscapes on paper. Snelling’s work is certainly not derivative, but the scale of the paintings, and the broad brush strokes suggest he has acknowledged there are different ways to interpret the world.

© Nick Snelling

Alongside these new paintings there is a selection of artworks from Snelling’s private collection. It’s a beautifully curated anthology and it’s easy to see why he has chosen to live with each piece. The artists include: Ian Baker, Phoebe Burrows, Jon Cole, Peter Dalla Costa, Michael Davies, Martin Everett, Rod Harman, Clyde Hopkins, Adrienne Hunter, Ian Jones, Charles Koning, Julian Le Bas, Patrick Jones and William Snelling.

The exhibition is accompanied by a specially commissioned film by Roberta Phillips. Time spent watching it is time well spent. If you need persuading before you visit, you can catch a sample of it on Philips’ Instagram page.

Painting by Ian Baker

The landing gallery at Electro Studios is easy to miss despite the choice of two doors to access it – one on either side of the entrance of the main gallery, but totally disconnected from the ground floor space. Staircases take you up to a 30 metre long corridor across the building, where Ian Baker’s Then and Now exhibition takes you on a woodland walk.

Baker’s richly evocative paintings emerge from a deep love of nature in the Romantic sense and are embedded in the English tradition of landscape as metaphor for inner states of being: melancholy, longing and separation. His paintings depict hidden places – both sacred and scarred spaces – where human traces take the form of a discarded bottle, or an item of clothing, revealing the fragility and transience of life.

This is the perfect companion exhibition to On Wood – literally walking above the canopy of Snelling’s trees.

Both exhibitions are open on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31 July,
10am to 5pm.
Electro Studios Project Space, Seaside Road, St Leonards on Sea TN38 0AL
Visit the artists’ websites: Nick Snelling and Ian Baker.

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Posted 20:36 Friday, Jul 29, 2022 In: Visual Arts

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