Air, Wind and Water
at Gallery 44, Aldeburgh, by Mark Beesley and Lisa Linsdell
A review by Andrew Smith
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.
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.
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.
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:
Wall , Acrylic on MDF.
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
Wall , Acrylic on MDF.
Wall , Acrylic on MDF.
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.
Smith, May 2002
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.
holding one of his wind turbine paintings outside 'Gallery 44',
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.
Linsdell's large ceramic pieces, shown here, and Mark's 'realistic'
paintings presented a good contrast of styles and complimented
each other very well.
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.