Tess Recordon

British Landscapes

19 June - 10 July 2013

Private View:
Saturday 22 June 6:30-8:30pm

Tess Recordon’s solo exhibition Tess Recordon: British Landscapes is the culmination of a year’s exploration of some of the wilder, less visited spots of the British Isles.

After completing two major landscape series inspired by India, China and Japan for her acclaimed solo shows at The Nehru Centre, Indian High Commission, London (2011) and Trinity Hall, Cambridge (2009), Tess felt a strong pull to turn her attention closer to home.

‘I wanted to explore the unseen on our doorstep – wild places like Dartmoor and Northumberland that we often bypass en route to somewhere else. And to capture the amazing light quality and variety of landscape we have – every hour you travel in Britain, the landscape is different, and the light changes in that hour too.’

So Tess embarked on a year-long ‘stay-cation’ of short trips around Britain on foot and bicycle, often alone. She found herself climbing mountains to experience the cold and snow, walking St Cuthbert’s Way in slow stages, and generally immersing herself in the landscapes of Cornwall, Dartmoor, The Lake District, Northumberland and Scotland, before returning home to her Cambridge studio to paint from memory.

In the field, Tess spends the days walking, sometimes cycling, absorbing the smells and sounds. Moving meditation, as it were. Indeed, if there’s nobody around, she’ll sit and meditate for a while too. She doesn’t sketch on location or take photos, as her interest is in opening herself up to the essence of a place, and her response to it over time, rather than literal rendition of topography.

‘I’m fascinated by the subconscious mind and how memory works. If you start sketching, you’re editing right from the start. Give yourself some time and distance, and you often find something apparently insignificant comes to the fore as the essence of a place. Similarly, the thing about photos is that the camera chooses a specific perspective, viewpoint, but in reality our eye doesn’t see this way.’

Tess makes notes in the evenings, or when she gets home. And finding ‘smell and touch better than any visual prompt’ she’ll often bring back small aide memoires – a fern, a bit of moss. ‘I just have to smell a pine cone to be transported back to Holkham beach, walking on the sand, never quite reaching the sea, beneath huge Norfolk skies, pine trees in the dunes.’

Each painting can take Tess weeks, even months to develop. She uses a combination of oil paint and solid pigment to build up layers of textural information - ‘I get through a lot of pigment! I can spend hundreds of pounds at Cornelissen’s (artists’ materials store on Great Russell Street, London)!’

‘I pour paint and neat pigment from jars, I don’t use brushes except to mix the colours – I like the sense of energy, being open to chance or the unconscious mind. And for the action of painting to be seen in the finished canvas.’

Tess had been dreaming of visiting Kielder ever since a friend told her it had more clear skies than anywhere else in the UK. ‘Literally dreaming of it, for years! And the strange, marvellous thing is that when I finally got there earlier this year, it was actually as I’d imagined it in my dreams.’

Tess Recordon at work in her Grantchester, Cambridge, studio

Click here to view online gallery of paintings in this exhibitionTess_Recordon_-_British_Landscapes_gallery.html
Click here for details of commissioning a paintingTess_Recordon_-_commissions.html

Limited Edition giclée prints will be available for many of the paintings in this exhibition:
please enquire at the gallery
or by email