Exhibition news: Home and Plants

I'm delighted to have two pieces featured in Fronteer Gallery's new, parallel exhibitions: Home and Plants. Both exhibitions open this week. Read on to discover my inspiration for my submissions to these South Yorkshire exhibitions.

Framed painting of African veld and hillside

Fronteer's call for the Home exhibition presented an opportunity for me to share one of my South African inspired landscapes. 

I've never veld like this before depicts a road-trip vista within the Bontekbok National Park in my birth country, South Africa. Veld is pronounced almost identically to felt so the title is a pun. It means open land. Not a cultivated field or meadow, something a bit more wild but not as wild as being out in the "bush".

I painted this when I returned from a visit to see my family. The painting is partly about the feeling of being at home that comes through time spent with family, connecting with each other through nature, away from worldly distractions. It's also partly about the ability I've developed as an immigrant to find home in new surroundings. My love for expansive spaces, whether they are beaches or countryside or vast skies.

As an immigrant, painting landscapes is one of the ways I express connections to places. When I first came to Britain, I channelled my homesickness into paint, recreating the memories I missed as an expression of love for family. Over the years, as I've begun to feel a greater sense of belonging, the number of local landscapes in my repertoire has increased.

My recent Yorkshire landscapes, for example, are an expression of feeling truly at home up north (as you may recall from Promise; my contribution to the 2023 Fronteer Open). Veld may be inspired by a South African location, but the sense of space that it captures is also the characteristic of Yorkshire skies and landscapes that makes me feel at home.

Close-up of painting palette knife textures

On a technical level, the title also alludes to feeling at home with oil paint. The painting marked a turning point in my development. I was now equally comfortable blending paint to create soft, fluffy clouds with a brush and sculpting the textured wild flowers with my palette knife. I do love the clouds in this one.

Many artists, myself included, find green a daunting colour. It's hard to mix good, clean greens and the ready-made ones can be garish. For some reason, it's super tricky to represent the range of lovely greens in nature and keep your palette fresh and harmonious. Veld has a lot of greens and there's certainly some colour bravery in tackling a composition that's more than two-thirds green. 

Framing-wise, I had originally imagined Veld with a white floating frame. Interestingly, when we tested the frame samples at Artworks, the light grey floating frame won me over. It worked best against both the sky and veld corners. Always remember to test your frame samples against more than one corner, especially when framing landscapes that might have different top and bottom colours. The grey subtly accentuates the purple wildflowers, enhancing the sense of depth and texture.

For the Plants exhibition, I submitted my favourite sunflower painting from last year, Possibility. The textures in this are lovely and it's definitely worth looking at this painting in person. 

Textured sunflower painting

This highly textured creation used a range of applicators to expressively bring the sunflower to life. The title hints at the playfulness of the process (and the risk of wet-on-wet technique for juxtaposing yellow alongside darker hues) and the promise of the full bloom. 

Partially opened sunflowers are a delight to paint. There's something ultra inspiring about the contrast between the tightly-fisted head and the delicacy of the peeping petals and unfurling sepal fronds.

Possibility is being exhibited unframed. I'd recommend framing this in a box frame behind non-reflective art glass with a wide mount (so that the frame doesn't overshadow the textures).

You can enjoy Plants and Home at Sheffield's Fronteer Gallery from 28 February to 14 March. Private view of both exhibitions is on Tuesday 27 February. 

Back to blog

1 comment

Hello JL. Particularly enjoyed reading your latest email, – gives one as sense of getting to know more about you. Your art work is evolving & England is really your home now.Good to know you still acknowledging your roots. Much love 🐊

Helen M

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.