A heartwarming look at East Anglia

Michael Coulter - Watercolours, is at The John Russell Gallery, 4-6 Wherry Lane, Ipswich until March 7.Michael Coulter's colourful watercolour paintings sing a song of Suffolk and England's joys.

Michael Coulter - Watercolours, is at The John Russell Gallery, 4-6 Wherry Lane, Ipswich until March 7.

Michael Coulter's colourful watercolour paintings sing a song of Suffolk and England's joys. Starling and song thrush swoop in sunny skies, old steam trains chug through cheery countryside, and enthusiastic sailors skirt rivers and sea.

Coulter's quintessentially English paintings, even croquet is played, are instantly recognisable; the style illustrative, uplifting, and just a touch eccentric. They bring a smile to your face and charm your day.

It's not surprising that Coulter is the Gallery's most popular painter. These are works of celebration and love that capture a countryside that all too often we fail to enjoy. Stress is banished from Coulter's paintings; they ooze optimism.


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In River Walk one is reminded of the Sunday family outing. An old fellow feeds the ducks, the pushchair is paraded, the sails are taught and stretched, and birds dip and dive overhead. A blue sky full of floating cotton wool clouds sits atop, next to the greenest of woodland. The Union Jack blows in the wind. There is so much life in this painting that one can't help but be touched.

To some extent Coulter seems to be taking us on a journey to a place we have forgotten.; a world where steam trains like The Eastern Belle still wear their colours, cows and kids ramble and frolic. The Easterling and Canal And Swallows evoke the same memories; the latter exceptionally well composed with a superb contrast of sweep and line.

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There's a strong understanding of design in Coulter's paintings; particularly evident in Port Godwit, High On The Rooftops, Trafalgar Square, and Rain In New Street; architecture and angle are played with and enthused over. Coulter's view is from above, looking down or flying at the same level.

Eyeing these paintings, all worked on the whitest of paper so hues appear pure, is instantly refreshing; as is their inherent humour. In Shag Rock, a sea of choppy design and hot and cold blues, the stylisation is witty. The Cormorants have a peacock-esque quality. Coulter does not paint every speckled hen, cow, or bird just so; he captures its intrinsic sense and its comedy. His approach to humans is the same. You see an impression that suggests and reveals.

Michael Coulter has exhibited his watercolours widely in the UK and abroad; enjoying considerable success. He also has work in some discerning private and public collections. Every year he supports a number of charities by donating his paintings and creating Christmas cards. This exhibition features the painting of Windmill And Winter Thrushes which has been raffled to raise funds for Victim Support, with the support of The John Russell Gallery. A heart warming exhibition.

Sonia Carvill

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