I love this tree, to me it could star in a futuristic dreamscape, the kind of world I’d like to enter when I shut my eyes at night. And this is the thing about Lesley Slight whose new exhibition Land, Sea & Trees opens at the Art Stable
in Child Okeford this Saturday (Nov 4-25); she paints entirely from her imagination so in a sense you are entering the artist’s dream world.
Slight lives in the Dorset countryside and her paintings depict a passionate connection with the natural world, both its beauty and the air of menace which sometimes lies beneath.
The artist Gigi Sudbury encapsulates this perfectly with her comment on Lesley Slight’s new work.
Sudbury says: “Her uncompromising use of opposites; the wilderness as sanctuary or menace, the calm with disquiet, the chance-like sitting comfortably with the more contrived, the burst of light and plunging darkness have all seduced us. We will have to think more about what we feel when we are out in nature. She gives us no choice because you can never look at Slight’s work and be totally at ease.”
With Slight the artistic process is fascinating. Her great skill is to absorb the valleys, hills, bushes, spinneys, trees and fields of the surrounding countryside and to return to her studio and render an image which begins as a streak of paint, the end unknown. For me her paintings feel like fiction, these are landscapes you can disappear into, which take you on a journey.
Although Slight makes drawings when she is out in the woods – her favourite place to absorb and observe – the sketches are never developed into paintings. Here she describes the process: “I work in the studio using oil on linen, covering the canvas with paint of different tones and hues, working back into it to see what emerges. Sometimes I take it forward at other times the process is repeated, often several times. Everything I paint is imagined. There is never a plan or indeed any idea of expectations of what the outcome will be.’
Path to the Sea 11
Slight describes the woods from which she so often draws inspiration - a deserted place which is wild and tangled - in terms of such poetry and drama, it makes you long to visit them for yourself although the truth is it's the combination of the artist's imagination and affinity with the natural world which make these works so potent.
She says: "I walk across the field, down a gentle slope to the stream in the south west corner of the pasture and enter the woods. From light into mottled darkness, the sun glances off leaves and branches, and the wind moving through the trees constnatly changes the kaleidoscope of tone and colour."
Lesley Slight, Land, Sea & Trees opens at The Art Stable
this Saturday (Nov 4). You won't want to miss it.