Landscapes of Mind

It’s called Inner Landscapes of the Mind and abstract artist Val Hudson wants you to decide for yourself what the paintings in her new Norwich exhibition are all about. Sarah Hardy reports.

Bold splashes of colour are Val Hudson's trademark - that and the need for the viewer to use their imagination. Her magnificent oil and wax on canvas paintings are inspired by the elements, especially fire and water, plus a sense of space.

“But I never like to tell people what they should be looking for or at. It's all about inner travelling, using your imagination and powers of meditation.

“They do encourage people to look a bit more, to try and work out what's going on, which I like,” she says.

They depict states of stillness, wildness and energy without a beginning or end, which, in turn, evokes the transitory nature of existence. As Val says: “By hinting at something in a painting, you let the imagination, that most powerful of tools, do the work.”

Her pieces are very tactile and do take a fair amount of time to create. “Yes, you have to wait for the oil to dry,” says Val, adding: “There's lots of layering, scraping back and building up textures.

“But I also think they are very easy to live with and can look different in different lights.”

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Val is originally from Clacton in Essex and didn't discover her artistic abilities until her late 20s. “At school, you had to choose between art and cookery and I chose cooking. It was, I guess, how I expressed my creativity.

“Then when I was about 28 or 29 years old, I met an artist who just encouraged me to have a go, to throw paint around and see what happened.”

She quickly realised that this was her calling and attended a three-year fine art course at St Martin's School of Art in London from 1991 to 1994. “It was useful but I think that I already knew what sort of work I wanted to produce.”

Val, 45, says: “I have always loved colour, even as a child I had a strong sense of it. So my pictures do have that raw energy about them.”

She lived in Norwich from 1996 to 2001 as she had applied to art school here and has very fond memories of the city and the nearby coastline.

She is happy to admit that she's not a full-time artist. Rather, Val has lived in Wales for several years where she helps to run a Buddhist retreat called Tiratanaloka, the place of the three jewels.

“It's in a beautiful valley in the Breacon Beacons and is just for women. Most come for a couple of weeks and they are all ages and from all different walks of life,” she says.

Val, whose Buddhist name is Vidyalila which means She Who Has the Playfulness of Aesthetics, adds: “I usually have some free time in the afternoon, when people go walking or have other activities planned. Then I'll paint or do some cooking or get in the garden.”

There should be between 25 and 30 works, most of which were created in Wales, in her latest exhibition, which opens in Norwich this weekend.

“Some reflect a trip to Russia that I made in 2005 and there are always pieces from the Mediterranean as I go there once a year,” she says, adding that the exhibition has just been on show in Zurich.

Gallery boss David Koppel says: “The colour, vividness and depth of Val's work really appealed to me. These paintings do grab you.”

The pieces start at £500 and go up to £1950.

The exhibition opens at the St Giles Gallery, Norwich, on Saturday March 18 and runs until April 20. Admission is free. More details on 01603 663333 or visit www.sgsgallery.com

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