Richard Holliday, Shelley Thornton, Graham Black | Three Ways West

21st June 2024 - 20th July 2024

Preview: Friday 21st June 17:30 onwards, all welcome!

Three Ways West

Richard Holliday – Sculptor

Shelley Thornton – Painter

Graham Black – Printmaker

Introduction

Three distinctive artists come together in this exciting exhibition exploring their diverse approaches to media and abstraction rooted in the rugged yet beautiful land and seascapes of their adopted home in West Cornwall.

The differences between the three are evident in their use of media and working processes but similarities also surface as each responds to the geography and geology that surround them. They are all directed by the geometry they perceive – the lines, the forms, the shapes, the patterns. Each, in their chosen mediums, creates absorbing abstractions from that environment.

All three also inject aspects of the autobiographical, and of society at large into their work. Their own musings and reflections on life become embedded in their art. The fact that they were individually drawn to West Cornwall from very different locations (Cambridge, Yorkshire and Brighton respectively) gives each of them a unique lens through which to view the Cornish landscape.

Richard Holliday

From my roots in the restoration trade working on cathedrals and other historic buildings, to grander public art commissions with their inherent structural technicalities and deadlines, I now find myself in the relatively tranquil environment of studio and gallery. Each new phase is as fulfilling as those of the past.

I am sometimes true to the materials allowing hardness and durability to take precedent. I sometimes want the stone to appear and feel soft and malleable. Sometimes I concentrate on technique, sometimes purely on geometry. I take my inspiration from my architectural backstory or my observation of nature or the human form. This exhibition allows for it all.

Shelley Thornton

Shelley lives and works in St Ives, Cornwall. She brings her bold and colourful abstract painting style to life through a series of unique collections. Her artworks represent a strong melding of the seeming dichotomy of the industrial city environment where she grew up and the stunning seascapes around her. She is driven by the feelings, interpretations and stories that run through our world.

Often her work draws inspiration from her passion for music. Lyrical elements add to the narrative and mixed media style of some paintings whilst, in others, music has led to the idea and resulting feel for creativity as Shelley builds the piece up each layer at a time. Texture and symbolism surface within blocks of colour to tell comprehensive stories – evoking a deep sense of place and the passing of time. Shelley combines salvaged materials such as sand, salt, cement, brick and rust. These natural or industrial mediums bring their own histories to bear on the reading of the artworks – providing fragments of memory to her creations.

“When I paint, I find myself blending images of steel furnaces and coal mines from my northern roots with the contrasting beauty of Cornwall.”

Graham Black

After a long career as an art director in London, Graham relocated to Cornwall to rekindle his love for printmaking. Based on a working dairy farm near Land’s End, his work is deeply rooted in West Penwith’s rugged coastal environment. His affinity with this landscape underpins his work – primarily silkscreen printing, which he embraces for its potential for unpredictable outcomes.

He also draws inspiration from the pioneers of British abstraction who were similarly motivated by Cornish topography: Nicholson, Hepworth, Frost, BarnsGraham, Pasmore. Where his work differs, perhaps, is in representing the myriad textural complexities of the rock formations that dominate the area – he is as fascinated by surface pattern and texture as by form and shape.

“Recent work has become less representational of the landscape itself and been distilled into pure abstraction; the focus of the imagery has become more conceptual, colourful and celebratory”