These Valued Landscapes explores the historic context of the representation of the landscape through text, photography, ceramics, sculpture and mixed media, by artists including Emily Cole, James Ireland, Idris Khan and Paul Scott. The exhibition looks into the landscape’s shift in value, from the critically underrated subject of the past to the highly valued genre it is today.
During the Georgian period, the genre of landscape painting was considered the lowest valued subject in visual art practice, both in economic and critical terms, and it lagged far behind the status of portraiture and still life; these were seen to possess greater social value, expressing wealth and attracting critical acclaim. Thomas Gainsborough’s landscapes, for example, were thought of as decorative and having little or no substance to the artistic process involved in creating them.
These Valued Landscapes explores the historic context of the representation of landscape. The exhibition brings together work by seven contemporary British artists to consider the rural, urban and industrial landscape in the context of value; from society to politics, the environment to industry to art itself. Whether for social, political, economic or, indeed, its aesthetic value, the landscape provides a rich and considerable subject, capable of stimulating personal and deeply emotive works of art and providing an arena to make poignant comments on the natural world. Featuring painting, text, photography, ceramics, sculpture and mixed media, the exhibition looks into the landscape’s shift in value, from the critically underrated and decorative subject of the past to the highly valued genre it is today.
Emily Cole’s striking paintings are inspired by her numerous journeys around East Anglia where upon she provides comment on our consumption and understanding of the rural landscape as well as the environmental impact of travel to many of Britain’s idyllic locations. The social function of the landscape is a primary concern for artist Mark Edwards whose photographs capture minute details of overlooked and redundant spaces while the question of ownership is central to Fraser Harrison’s text-based work. Considering the countryside and agriculture in rural Britain, the author discusses the issues associated with owning the natural environment and the demarcation between private property and public access.
James Ireland’s sculpted landscapes are informed by the traditions of landscape painting and allow the viewer to explore and expand upon both the pictorial and conceptual stimuli he provides. The metaphorical landscape of the photographic medium is at the root of Idris Khan’s multilayered images, with explicit references to history both as a mechanical tool for reproduction and as an art form in its own right.
Paul Scott creates work which explores the landscape using the familiar and historic aesthetic of blue and white patterned ceramics. His innovative techniques in ceramic transfer printing enable the application of contemporary imagery onto traditional, often original, patterned plates. Using video footage, sound recordings, found and archival imagery and text, artist Katy Woods reflects upon the 1864 flooding of her home city of Sheffield when the Dale Dyke Dam outside Bradford collapsed, claiming the lives of almost 300 people and wiping out many homes and industry. Her work explores the wider impact and legacy of the industrial landscape across Britain.
These Valued Landscapes is a Bury St Edmunds Art Gallery Touring Exhibition James Ireland is represented by f a projects, London Idris Khan appears courtesy of Victoria Miro Gallery, London