Peter Scott Gallery – Wordsworth Trust Residency Exhibition

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2012 saw the announcement of a new Five Year Collaborative Agreement between The Wordsworth Trust and Lancaster University. As a result, the Peter Scott Gallery is hosting artwork that explores and celebrates the famous landscapes of the Lake District.

The District’s landscape has been immortalised by British Romanticism; a movement that employed literature in order to record the sense of the sublime evoked by nature. Parallel to the literary creations of Wordsworth and Coleridge, Romanticism also fed into the arts world – where swathes of paint bathed canvases in order to create glorious sunsets. Turner’s portrayal of light was revolutionary – his canvases glowed with hyper-reality due to intense layered brush-strokes that produced radical three-dimensional textures. He made use of colours that had previously been overlooked; portrayals of the sky no longer focused on blues and greys, but yoke-yellows, blush roses, purples and greens. It was as though he looked at the sky through a magnifying glass, which saturated colours in order to produce vivid and glittering results. Turner celebrated nature through colour.

The contemporary artwork residing at the Peter Scott Gallery responds to this hyper-real enthusiasm in different ways. Artworks range from meticulous precise recordings of leaf-patterns (a mathematical approach to nature), to splattering of fluorescent colour that appears to demonstrate natural chaos. One creation juxtaposes the north and the south – contrasting the supremacy of the lakes with the urban south, which incidentally challenges pre-conceptions that label the north as industrial.

The exhibition is a dichotomous collection of the precise and the artistically liberal, whilst responding both to the serene landscapes of the North and also to the romantic creations of their predecessors.

Wordsworth’s poetry, which is essentially a spontaneous overflow of intense emotion, is arguably challenged by the mathematical approach to recording nature. Whilst biological science is connected to recording nature, Romanticism focused more specifically on the emotional response of the individual in association with nature and the elements. Wordsworth’s ‘Tintern Abbey’, for example records:

“Once again
Do I behold   these steep and lofty cliffs,
Which on a   wild secluded scene impress
Thoughts of   more deep seclusion”

Here, Wordsworth highlights the connection between the natural and the emotional, employing pathetic fallacy to materialise the depths of the human mind. This rich description, represented by the richness of texture and colour in Tuner’s paintings, is a stark contrast to the mathematical recordings of leaf shapes. However, perhaps it can be argued that such fine detail and precision concentrated upon a natural form strengthens the relationship between humanity and nature. Science and maths increases our understanding of the earth, and when merged with art and literature, enables a celebration of nature that extends to all outlets of human knowledge and creativity.

This exhibition extends to the 22nd March 2013, and entry is free.

 

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