Nature as Inspiration
Lara Lloyd introduces four South Devon-based artists whose work embodies their passion for the natural world.
Paul Riley, Jill Fanshawe-Kato, Laurel Keeley and Kate Marshall are four artists who remain continuously fascinated by the changing landscape and the natural world around them. Their paintings, prints and ceramic works are both inspired by and reflect the many different forms of Nature. Wild landscapes and vivid seascapes of the south-west of England, found objects and the natural flotsam and jetsam from rivers and waterways, and animals and plants from travels around the world all find expression in their works.
Paul Riley prolifically paints the landscape around Coombe, and using watercolour and oils he captures the changing seasons, atmosphere, light, flora and fauna of South Devon. His work ranges from bold landscapes to subtle representations of flowers and natural forms, brought to life through his skilful use of brush and colour. Paul has been painting scenes from around Coombe for decades, looking in depth and with intimacy, as a result of which an intensity has formed in his work, most recently in his many and wide-ranging representations of the river Dart, which provides a consistent source of inspiration for mastering his watercolour techniques.
Jill Fanshawe-Kato’s lifelong love of Nature can be seen throughout her ceramic and sculptural works. She is well known for her use of stylised birds, fish and plant forms and abstract blocks of colour. Although she grew up in Devon, she considers Japan her “birthplace as a potter”, having studied there for many years. She loves the idea that in Japan, materials of craft – clay, stone, wood – have their own integral life force, a quality known as kami. She often uses the local clay from around Coombe for making sculptural forms and is currently experimenting with firing river Dart clay. Jill has recently travelled to Egypt, where she has been studying Nile Valley sunbirds and Egyptian forms. Over time her experiences and observations gradually become distilled into her work.
Kate Marshall is passionate about printmaking and making images from the world around her. The river Dart features strongly in her work too: river water, found materials, earth and charcoal are all incorporated and layered into her experimental prints. Tints and textures from the environment find their way into her finished works, as well as words and poems, and she shares her creative methods with others to inspire new ways of making imagery.
Laurel Keeley is well known for her use of coloured slips and drawn line in stoneware and porcelain clays, with glazes and oxides applied, often enhanced with gold lustre. The slab bowls, plates and pots are vehicles for figurative designs of fish and fields, rivers and canals. She often incorporates intense designs of turquoise and green in her work, reminiscent of the vibrant hues of land and sea that inspire her so much.
All four artists are regular tutors at Coombe Farm Studios and continually experiment with their work. Through their teaching and exploration of ideas, they have a way of stirring and encouraging in their students the same sense of awe and wonder at the natural world. They share not only their inspirations and passions but also a great deal of knowledge and technical skill, allowing ideas to be brought into reality through their chosen media.
Coombe provides an amazing setting in which to create and work, with its rambling gardens, babbling stream, the mysterious flowing river Dart and the lush green hills and sparkling seas of the South Devon coast right outside the studio door.
For more information about Coombe Farm Studios: www.coombefarmstudios.com For more information about individual artists see their websites: www.paulrileyart.com www.jillfanshawekato.com www.katemarshall.co.uk www.laurelkeeley.com