Collection Display

Throughout history, landscape has provided one of the richest sources of subject matter for western artists whether depicting the urban or the rural, man or nature, past or present, romance or war. Images of landscape are a key element in informing historical understanding of how art has developed and how culture and society has evolved. What does landscape mean to us? What can it represent? We walk the landscape – it is the space we experience, the environment we inhabit. The relationship between mankind and the landscape is reciprocal – each having an impact on the other. Landscape is a constant, yet one in perpetual flux; above all, it is a continuum affected by a myriad of factors - light, air, weather, the seasons, nature, growth and man’s interaction.


In representing a landscape the artist may choose to convey an intimate, personal response. This selection of works highlights the idea of the fleeting moment as a reminder of the transience of time itself. The depiction may be descriptive, symbolic or visionary; it may present knowledge of and affinity to place or indicate the unknown, the enigma of territory unexplored. The experience of landscape may be a spiritual, emotional or philosophical journey, a source of inspiration, a place of retreat and meditation or even a place of loneliness – the landscape of the solitary wanderer. Re-creating the world we see, understand and experience, in turn acknowledges our presence within it.


In art, landscape is used to explore a range of ideas and issues. It can be used poetically to indicate the sublime wonders, mystery and romance of the natural world or more politically to raise environmental concerns and to offer a perspective on the condition of the planet. The cycle of nature – growth, reproduction and decay - constantly reaffirms the omnipresence of life and death. Man’s interaction with landscape opens a broad arena of discussion and debate - a relationship which can be constructive or destructive, beneficial or harmful, harmonious or discordant, tranquil or tumultuous. Paradoxically, the power of the natural world to impact upon both man and on itself is immense.


The works selected from the Sainsbury collection for this exhibition present concepts of space, place and time – some literal and others abstract. The artists’ works explore the mediums of drawing, painting and ceramics and are united in their ethereal and meditative responses to the natural world, referencing the mystery of the moment. 



Echoing the ever-changing qualities of landscape, John Piper’s depiction of Moel Siabod, the Snowdonian mountain is composed of gestural sweeping marks creating a sense of place both abstract and indefinable. Charles Maussion’s landscapes offer a prevailing sense of silence and stillness. The expanse of space in the works suggests distance; worlds which appear far away. While this, on the one hand, evokes a perceptible tranquillity, the suggestion of infinity is also mysterious and potentially unnerving. It is a reminder of the smallness of Man in this vast landscape, awed by something expansive, greater than his knowledge can comprehend. 


Notions of colour, space and time appear in the often untitled lyrical abstract works of Mübin Orhon. Like many other works in this exhibition they are contemplative, meditative and serene. This sense of calm also appears in the work of Geneviève Asse, whose still-lifes and landscapes become virtually monochromatic, flowing light - pure and tranquil as she moves through figuration to abstraction.


The inspiration of nature is also conveyed through the organic sculptural forms of the ceramic collection on display which are similarly gestural and rich in their textural qualities. Claudi Casanovas’ sculptural forms suggest rock formations with their craggy, earthy surfaces and these elements of the natural world are reflected in the irregular-shaped ceramics of Ewen Henderson. Sara Radstone references her experience of both the urban and rural environment to convey moments where inner and outer landscapes meet. From a farming background, Chris Carter has a great affinity for the land which he cites as the inspiration for his work: “In them is reflected both my landscape now, and a search for those ancestors who farmed it thousands of years ago.”


This display has been selected to generate a feeling for the lyricism of landscape. The works evoke life within and beyond the frame and offer a commentary on the journey and experience of ‘being-in’ the world.



Claudia Milburn