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Earth, Air, Wind and Water
An Exhibition
at Gallery 44, Aldeburgh, by Mark Beesley and Lisa Linsdell
A review by Andrew Smith

This exhibition in Aldeburgh during an unusually mild and sunny April presented two very accomplished and popular artists, one a painter, the other a ceramicist. Mark Beesley is well-known in East Anglia as the painter of Suffolk churches, wheat fields, and 'real' or imagined landscapes, but as anyone who knows or understands his work, his 'Suffolk Scenes' are anything but 'real' providing a sometimes unnerving mix of the real and the decidedly surreal. Lisa Linsdell comes from the craft arena with her earthenware 'pots' and water pieces. The combination of these two artists' work provided an excellent contrast of styles or genres and filled the small Gallery 44 in Aldeburgh with a fascinating exploration of the exhibition's themes of 'Earth, Air, Wind and Water' in all their forms.

Mark Beesley has shown his own unique style of oil and acrylic paintings in many galleries in East Anglia and built up a very enthusiastic following. His work is very hard to pin down and is really only appreciated in the flesh, to catch the nuances of colour and texture, and so that you 'get' the overall message or preoccupation in his work. This preoccupation is one of the exploration of man's influence on the landscape, whether it is from an impartial viewer's standpoint, or as a critique on the way man changes and shapes his environment. These are not overtly political paintings, but under the surface, all of Mark's work presents a commentary on how man has exploited the land for aesthetic, commercial, or agricultural purposes. See 'Cloches', Oil on canvas (shown right), a typical combination of a ploughed field, a tree, farm buildings and plastic cloches: the painting provides a scene of the 'natural' environment but you ask yourself, "how much of this is truly natural". The conclusion is that all our impressions of the landscape involve, to a greater or lesser degree, nature having been reshaped by man for either the purpose of work or pleasure.

Following the themes of Wind and Air, Mark's most environmentalist subjects to date are presented with a series of large paintings of wind turbines, a typical example of these is 'Wind Turbine V', Acrylic on MDF, shown here. I think this series of paintings sum up my feelings for wind power in general: it seems the most efficient (and by-the-way the least intrusive and elegant looking) way of harnessing of the wind's natural force, and it's freely available! Mark's paintings of wind turbines present these huge structures in their 'natural' setting, and somehow suggest that, far from being an eyesore on the landscape, wind power provides the most natural of energy sources that 'fit' very well within our rural surroundings.

In my opinion, Mark's most successful and intriguing works are the small and intimate landscapes that combine the familiar altered environments with human figures, giving the scenes a highly dramatic sense of time and place. The finest examples of this strand in his work are seen in a series of small acrylics shown here:


Sea Wall , Acrylic on MDF.

My personal favourite is 'Sea Wall', an acrylic on MDF that is only about 10 inches wide. In it one person sits on a sea wall and gazes into the white foam lapping at his feet, while another person, slightly hidden from view, plays with a ball and a wave crashes against the wall, plus we see a large container ship on the horizon, and the base of a flag pole: all these are familiar objects or scenes, but the overall and unnerving impression is of unreality heightened by the improbable shape of the sea wall itself. Others in the series include:


Garden Wall , Acrylic on MDF.


City Wall , Acrylic on MDF.

This was a fascinating show of contrasts: large and small 2D and 3D works, real and the unreal, the ordinary and the extraordinary, the natural and unnatural. The overall impression was that of the artist shaping his or her work (or materials) to depict or give a sense of nature, and the artist's subjects (earth, water, etc) being influenced and shaped by man himself: there's no such thing as the natural or unnatural environment, just our ongoing relationship with or continual reshaping of the world around us.

--Andrew Smith, May 2002

'Earth, Air, Wind and Water' took place 29th March to April 11th, 2002, at 'Gallery 44', High Street, Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The show featured paintings by Mark Beesley and ceramics by Lisa Linsdell.

Mark Beesley has exhibited widely in the UK and his work is featured in private collections in Britain and abroad. As well as painting, Mark works as a illustrator, graphic designer and modelmaker.


Mark holding one of his wind turbine paintings outside 'Gallery 44', Aldeburgh, Suffolk.

Lisa Linsdell is a Suffolk-based ceramicist and member of the Suffolk Craft Society. Lisa is also a contributor to Potfest, an exhibition of 100 selected potters showing at Hutton-in-the-Forest, Penrith, Cumbria in July 2002.


Lisa Linsdell's large ceramic pieces, shown here, and Mark's 'realistic' paintings presented a good contrast of styles and complimented each other very well.

Lisa's work is constructed of hand-built earthenware in very earthy colours, evoking natural textures and geological structures. Plus she showed a couple of water pieces, as below, that have a timeless, universality of form and providing a relaxing watery sound to any environment.