Works in Landscape, Art and Uncertainty exhibition at Southampton City Art Gallery


Installation shot of exhibition on from 7 September 2013 – 5 January 2014
Gallery 8 (photo Christian Shaw)


(Left) Keith Vaughan The Singer (Right) Notes on an anxious landscape: Sidhe, etc. (2013), mixed media on paper

This work takes Keith Vaughan’s The Singer as its point of departure, along with scattered thoughts and visual notes on aspects of vernacular music in general and the post-war folk music revival in particular. The term sidhe (fairy) refers both to the central role of the ‘good neighbours’ in the supernatural Borders ballads central to the British vernacular song tradition and to Vaughan’s otherness as a homosexual.


Notes on an anxious landscape: Women/Place (2013), mixed media on paper (photo Christian Shaw)

This work takes Peter Lanyon’s images of Zennor and other Cornish Towns as its point of departure. It is a musing on the possible interrelationship of two aspects of his work: the extra-marital relationships with various lovers said to be central to his experience of place, and the claim that he largely transformed the English landscape painting tradition by shifting its focus from landscape traditionally understood to place. The image also owes something to my long-standing interest in ‘deep mapping’.


Gregory Maloba at Corsham Court (for Reg Boulton and ‘Rikki’ Richardson) (2013), mixed media on paper (photo Christian Shaw)

Before their marriage my parents-in-law – Reg Boulton and ‘Rikki’ Richardson as they then were – both studied art at Corsham Court (where Lanyon taught part-time). My father-in-law also attended a short painting course with Keith Vaughan, whose work he much admired. This image includes three photographs of Gregory Maloba, a Kenyan student at Corsham and friend of Rikki’s, together with material from a newspaper, as its point of departure. Other elements derive from Maloba’s vast concrete independence monument in Kampala and a map of the Corsham estate. After leaving Corsham, Maloba studied and taught art at Makerere University, where he had an incalculable impact on contemporary East African art.


(Top) Small anxious landscape: all the others? (2013), mixed media on paper (photo Christian Shaw)

(Bottom) Small anxious landscape: Les Girls (2013), mixed media on paper (photo Christian Shaw)

Like the other two ‘Small anxious landscape’ images, Small anxious landscape: all the others? reflects on the social context within which the post-war art world was located at the time my parents-in-law were students. Also to the emphasis on ’social reconstruction’ (of traditional norms as much as of social infrastructure) after a war that, despite everything, many young people clearly found a liberating experience. The sub-title references all those from that period who, unlike Keith Vaughan and Peter Lanyon, were not able to have a career as professional artists, with the various freedoms that licenced.

The photograph used in Small anxious landscape Les Girls was taken by my father-in-law, Reg Boulton, and includes his future wife ‘Rikki” Richardson (on the far right of the image). I was very taken by the different stances and expressions of these four young women that, with aspects of Reg and Rikki’s family history, provided a starting-point for Small anxious landscape: Les Girls. Also in my mind was the very public recent exposure of the sexual abuse over many years of music students by their teachers, a situation that raised questions about Peter Lanyon’s affairs with two of his students, seen by art historians as of the greatest importance to his experience of place.     

Iain's 4

(Clockwise from top left – photo Christian shaw))

 Song / Place / Singer: first and last thoughts (2013) acrylic on paper on board

Night thoughts (after Zennor) (2013), acrylic on board

Song / Place / Singer: Peter Lanyon and Keith Vaughan (2013), acrylic on papers and board 

Landscape + Sexual Encounter = Place? (after Peter Lanyon) (2013), acrylic on paper on board