Review: An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Nicky Brown, and Oliver Campion, and Works on Driftwood by Meriel Ensom is at the Picture Gallery, Hintlesham Hall, Hintlesham until January 17 2012.

An Exhibition of Oil Paintings by Nicky Brown, and Oliver Campion, and Works on Driftwood by Meriel Ensom is at the Picture Gallery, Hintlesham Hall, Hintlesham until January 17 2012.

Nature’s beauty and man’s relationship with it are explored in Cobbold & Judd’s latest exhibition, now showing at Hintlesham Hall, and featuring oil paintings by Nicky Brown, and Oliver Campion, and works on driftwood by Meriel Ensom.

It’s a show that invites reflection, drawing its inspiration from East Anglia, and further afield; a celebration of light, space, and setting that allows the viewer to imbue nature’s timeless charms.

Nicky Brown’s oils on canvas and charcoal drawings on paper reveal her interest in man’s relationship with the land; workers who keep the traditional skills of willow coppicing, and hedge layering alive today. In the small oil Blue Coppice a solitary figure, anoraked and hatted, stands amidst a tangle of intertwining branches and twigs. A hazy blue light permeates the painting; a delicate peachy mist adding warmth. Brown’s brushstrokes combine energy and delicacy. The coppice appears like a secret place, wild, overgrown and ancient. Brown’s strength is her ability to create atmosphere. Willow Coppicing At Braxted and Men Evening have a similar feel. Looking at these paintings, the first loose, vigorous, and of glowing green hues, and the latter energized by water, there’s a strong sense of the moment. You feel privileged to share it with the artist.

Brown, who studied at the Royal Academy Schools, certainly pays homage to Harry Becker; particularly in the charcoal drawings Malcolm Hedging, and Buffalo, and Hedge Laying Glebe Fields (oil). There’s a real physicality in these works, shown in her charging use of fluid, energetic line and brush, and ability to portray movement. Her palette is choice, reflecting her subject matter. Sometimes it burns bright, as in the arid, rusty landscape Indian Girls, at other times it’s softer.


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Oliver Campion’s eloquent paintings exude calm and gentleness. In Bridge With Distant City, Interior With French Window, and Terrace Wall (three works) light dominates, giving clarity to Campion’s semi-abstract style, and acting as a catalyst to reveal structure and form. Campion, who studied at the Slade School of Art, and tutored at Camberwell, understood the laws of space. He’s a painter’s painter, whose works are best appreciated from a few feet away. In Orchard Allemans he leads the viewer into a multi-layered medley of paint, drawing you along a winding path. His brushstrokes are loose and fluid. In Male Figure the paint is thinner in areas. The reclining male appears almost transitory, mirroring the nature of light itself.

Meriel Ensom’s paintings on driftwood have a different appeal. Ensom, a self-taught artist, has a love of found objects and wildlife. Her detailed and decorative paintings of iridescent sardines, glistening herrings, hares, and curlews are quite magical.

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This is a stunning exhibition and well worth a visit. The gallery is open most days, but to confirm times ring 01473 652334.

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