Simon Carter is a passionate painter and an equally passionate gardener. Although his work has previously concentrated on wilder natural landscape he is increasingly finding his other two passions interacting. The focus of this show at North House Gallery is painting based on a year’s weekly drawing visits to Beth Chatto’s garden together with work from his recent residency at Cuckoo Farm Studios, Colchester.
The Essex coast, where I have my studio, is where the gardened landscape of England starts to fall, literally, into the more spare and elemental landscape of the North Sea. I have always used this coast as a source for my paintings but, although I have gardened for over 20 years, it is only recently that the garden has also provided a subject for the paintings.
The garden is a cultivated space in a similar way to painting; it is bounded, composed and worked over. The relationship of gardens and painting to the wider landscape is also similar, being, at best, that of re-presentation not copy or pastiche. However, while the garden is enclosed, a private space, an expression of self and dream of other places, the coast is open, overwhelming, subject to huge forces and untended.
Over the last two years I have made work from several gardens: my own; my brother’s garden in California with its startling light; the geometric Sissinghurst and Great Dixter; but chiefly Beth Chatto’s garden near Colchester, where throughout 2005, partly funded by an Arts Council grant, I made weekly visits in order to make drawings on which to base studio paintings. Seeing the garden throughout the year increased awareness of the garden not only as design and horticulture but also as something that is more dynamic and subject to constant change.
Simon has been interested in the idea of the artist’s garden since visiting Emil Nolde’s studio and garden in Germany over twenty years ago. Although he has since then been working on his own garden (and two allotments) the invitation last year to collaborate with designer Thomas Hoblyn on the gold-medal winning Volvo: the artist’s garden at the RHS Hampton Court Palace show was a chance to consciously connect the paintings back to the actual garden. The planting was treated as a painterly rather than a designed process.
Simon Carter is a quiet, modest man but recognition of his increasing stature as a painter has come in the form of selection for upcoming shows at the prestigious London galleries Messum’s and Agnew’s.
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These images are a selection of the works available at the Gallery Please contact the gallery for further information