Peter Baldwin - People, Plants and Places
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Grapevine Gallery, Norwich
Grapevine Gallery, Norwich
Balloons over Hastings shows many of the qualities that give Peter Baldwin's paintings their particular character.
The view is quite broad, including a boat's dark hull and bowsprit and the stark, shapely white façade of a church set off against the green of a hillside. Above all this, hot-air balloons drift distant in the sky.
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The scene is serene, with smooth paint on the contrasting surfaces adding to the sense of calm. Yet there is a certain tension too in this frozen moment. It seems to ask a question about the reality of what has been recorded.
Even in paintings of places nearer the artist's home in Sheringham and under clearer skies, the general atmosphere is the same. Observation is always the starting point, the outlines of buildings convey great solidity, though much of the detail is omitted to create simpler, most massive forms, and the colours are strikingly vivid. Yet the sense of something spellbound extends even to the human beings inhabiting these canvasses.
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Susan Deakin, a print maker from Devon, adopts a rather different vision. Three dry points of the River Dart belong to a familiar landscape style, with their affectionate impressions of the interplay of tree and water. There is more individuality in her lino cuts.
She makes bold patterns out of cacti with their menacing prickles. She captures that feeling of surprise we always have when one at last flowers and the delicate petals seem to contradict both the colour and the texture of the stem.
Even better, she takes three or four plants and puts them against different backgrounds. She does something similar with trees standing bare on the horizon, while in another group she finds inspiration in the astonishing shapes of pitcher plants.
t The exhibition continues to May 12. Further details at www.grapevinegallery.co.uk