Broomhill Exhibition June 2010

Topiary for Beginners

Address: Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple, Devon, EX31 4EX
Telephone: 01271 850262
Access: Good

Category:  Visual Arts & Literature

Starts: Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Ends: September 30, 2010

Painting for exhibition

Painting for Broomhill exhibition, 55? x 55? oil on canvas

‘Walk Away or Jump’

Inspired by a cliff walk with one of Robert Rauschenberg’s assistants in 1979. During 1979 I was in a band called ‘The Urge’, who were discovered by  an A&R man from Beggars Banquet Records, who saw us play at my degree show at Exeter College of Art. We ended up supporting ‘Bauhaus’, ‘Adam and the Ants’, ‘The Pack’ and many other Post Punk heroes. We were offered a record contract and  the A&R man became our manager and Rauschenberg’s former assistant also became an important member of our team.

I lived near Exmouth and often walked across the beach and along the cliffs – this time I was accompanied by Rauschenberg’s assistant who had been staying with me. At the highest point he confessed his love for me, which was a bit of a shock and I replied ‘I’m sorry but I prefer women”. The implications of this encounter still roll around in my brain. ‘Walk Away or Jump’. This was possibly one of the major turning points in my life – what did I turn down?  Fame, fortune?

Robert Rauschenberg was a massive influence on my painting, printing and music. Images (and sounds) that are arbitrarily spliced together in an apparent random manner will, when juxtaposed against each other, create a narrative. This meshing together of unrelated imagery may appear to be arbitrary but the intellectual decision making that goes with the process is absolutely phenomenal. It is therefore unrealistic to expect the uneducated masses to view these images as ‘real art’. The birth of Photoshop has enabled everybody to create ‘non-intellectual’ versions of Rauchenberg (and Warhol) – only the educated truly understand.

View from a train window

Views from a train window – Landscape painting

Oil paint on canvas

…the experience of the landscape viewed in shorthand, the trick is to imply with the minimum of effort…

Unfortunately the majority of landscape art fails miserably.  However, ‘Lake Lucerne: the Bay of Uri from above Brunnen‘ circa 1844 (by Turner) is the ultimate painting of landscape and nature – it tells a massive story with very little content. This has been an important painting for me since the early 1970’s. I have always admired the New York Abstract Expressionists of the mid 20th century but when I first saw this painting by Turner…… my sock were blown off. It is without doubt a clever (maybe unfinished) conceptual landscape painting.


Landscapes that are seen at speed, blurred, undefined, with a static, pinpoint horizon are better than watching TV. In many respects transferring theses visual clues into (in my case) paint gives a prompt, a reminder of the general feel of the landscape… an estimate, a representation/illusion takes on more realness than the actual physical object, the object then becomes a metaphor for the created illusion. This in turn creates an additional reference for the object, an extra visual adjective eg. ‘The sky was very Turneresque.’ Turner’s illusion becomes a metaphor for the real thing, which vividly describes [in words] the actual sky. The concrete object cannot say everything about itself – it has a limited vocabulary and is unable to say what is required of it.  It is on many levels mute. Read more…

More Images

Peter Bright presents ‘Topiary for Beginners’. Creating images is balancing on the knife edge that teeters between success and failure. A brushstroke out of place is like cutting the beak off a privet peacock, it takes time for it to grow back and reshape. Peter revisits his compositional ideas, formed in the late 70’s, to discover how his skills have ‘matured’.