Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Blue Bay, Dawn © Peter Greenhalf

Blue Bay, Dawn © Peter Greenhalf

The Nature Brothers

The Stables Art Gallery has an exhibition of artist brothers Peter and Robert Greenhalf. Both have a deep love and respect for the natural world, and HOT reporter, Lauris Morgan-Griffiths, went to see their different views of the Sussex countryside.

Both Peter and Robert are hugely respected as wildlife artists. The two practices are very different but complementary and it is fantastic to see their work side by side. They have exhibited together before; the last time they had a large show of their work was in France a few years ago. Peter is the photographer and printer, Robert the artist – paints, woodcuts  and monoprints.  Born in mid Sussex, they moved to East Sussex over thirty years ago. Their art is born out of a deep love and respect for the local area and both, in their own ways, have captured its essence: the beauty and peacefulness as well as its stark, primeval nature; the same birds would have frequented the place for ever; and the landscape shaped millennia ago.

Common Gulls and Avocerts © Robert Greenhalf

Common Gulls and Avocets © Robert Greenhalf

Robert evidently has a deep knowledge of the fauna around Rye Harbour; his pictures are like an identification parade. Even if you are not completely familiar with individual species, and I certainly am not, I recognise that the paintings are accurately drawn. He evidently has studied them for years – their habitat, behaviour and stance, some swooping over the countryside, others close up at the waters edge.  Little Terns with their long, piercing beaks; an Avocet family with chicks wobbling on spindly legs;  five lapwings,  their images reflected back to them from the sea shallows like old men standing and staring out to sea, a barn owl silently hunts, a raven glides over the hills and fields below.  Beautiful studies.

Stubble field © Peter Greenhalf

Stubble field © Peer Greenhalf

Peter is observing through eye and camera –  rather than Robert’s hand and eye – the changing light on the countryside and sea.  He recreates the contours of the land, the natural rise and fall, the way that nature and man have affected the local topography. He highlights the rows of the crops, the marks of the plough, ancient man-made tracks that follow the dips and curves of the hills and fields. There are no straight lines in nature.

Blue Bay is a painterly landscape of those peaceful, still days that sometimes happen where the sea hardly moves. The snow and ice have provided abstract, black and white images; the frozen swirls in puddles; the starkness of wild seed heads and plants, black hieroglyphics, against the pure snow.

drift © Peter Greenhalf

Drift © Petrer Greenhalf

Peter’s prints have an individuality and uniqueness.  They are black and white, yet they’re not quite black and white (except for the snow pictures), nor really brown or sepia.  He hand prints all his own images in his studio in Rye Harbour using a mixture of tones to create the various atmospheric effects he requires for each scene. Working in this exacting way, with chemicals that are invariably unpredictable, each image is unique.

Greenfinches © Robert Greenhalf

Greenfinches © Robert Greenhalf

You can, of course, always go out into the countryside and see for yourself the wonders of East Sussex.  However, these images concentrate the mind and see it in a different light; noticing two crows on a tree, the light highlighting a curve on a field, goldfinches on teasels, a nuthatch blending into a tree, a raven, flying solitarily.

 The exhibition continues until 31 December at the Stables Art Gallery, The Bourne, Hastings, East Sussex TN34 3BD. Opening Times Monday-Saturday 10.30am-2.00pm. 6.00-8.00pm Sunday closed.


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Posted 15:59 Wednesday, Dec 4, 2013 In: Visual Arts

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