Introduction and analysis of practice.
Adam Berry Fine Art Painting Est'd 1998. An award winning artist based in the North of England. An established artistic practice and experience regarding its professional dissemination through a variety of agencies, professional bodies and educational contexts. Lead artist managing artists residencies at schools, art colleges and universities nationally. Art-works in important private and public collections internationally.
The current project is a [up to present] a 3 year (and then some) 25,000 mile landscape painting tour of the British Isles.
After Peter Lanyon for who '...my painting is ... a turning outward of experience - a making immediate of a time process in space. Paint represents space and makes it actual. I do not start with the idea but with the experience. My source is sensuous ... My aim so far as I can see it is to make a face, an 'actuality', a 'thingness' for experience'.
Lanyon, his backers and the Mabyon Kernow make the distinction between regionalism and nationalism as all too important - I want both.
For Andrew Causey, in Peter Lanyon 'Modernism and The Land', how to express the sensation of being in Portreath, West Penwith, St Just (it could have been anywhere) is the theme of much of the tape [the work]. Causey recounts how Lanyon had been 'there' many times, and had built 'myths' around the interaction of the sea, land and protecting harbours. But the success of the painting depended upon his transformation of the material garnered. How at an early stage [Lanyon] had regarded Offshore as a failure. 'What I didn't realise was that I hadn't pushed the painting far enough away from myself, that the involvement of myself in the sea, in the roughness, the tumble-in, the going out... it was all too active... The image had been lost behind a mess of painting'. This work, and others of the period not only reflect the self intensely but also ensure that the 'image' is so fully realized that the finished work is an independent presence, not dominated by self. It was a complex balancing act: to be true to experience and obedient to the demands of painting.
"It was fascinating to see your visual interpretation and how you captured the spirit of our journey. The contrasts of so much that we visited came out powerfully in your exhibition. The old mill interiors were especially compelling."
The right reverend Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester
"The stunning 'White Moor' by Adam Berry, in mixed-media. It's a landscape, but far from a landscape in any ordinary sense. Berry has achieved something special here - you can almost smell the warm earth and taste the ozone."
Phil Penfold, Doncaster Free Press
"For all that we admire the vision of landscape artists like Paul Nash and Graham Sutherland, the strongly held ideas about 'genius loci' or spirit of place that informed their work so powerfully, no longer form a very significant strand in contemporary landscape painting, the concerns now more about mark-making and process than getting under the skin of a place. It is distinctly encouraging therefore to come across the work of a young graduate, Adam Berry, who has recently undertaken a solo painting tour of the UK doing just that, his large scale, often 'plein air' paintings and drawings, underpinned by deep research into the places' history and inhabitants, deliberately aiming to respond to each locations particular atmosphere. Showing at the Atkinson Gallery where Berry was recently artist in residence, this is exhilarating work."
Nicolas Usherwood, Editor, Galleries Magazine
"... work made during his intensive journeys around the country, and there is an immense technical ability in this work - but it extends beyond this, I feel, into a romantic sensibility, which is quite rare now, in contemporary art".
"Strong sense of composition, energy and integrity of palette. Congratulations on winning my prize, and I hope we shall see more of your work in London".
Richard Smith, Royal Watercolour Society, Bankside Gallery, London
"These are totally, totally amazing - the mastery of paint is superb (the brushwork is astonishing) and the composition is unique. A new vision".
Dr Ursula Szulakowska, Hon Fellow, Leeds University
"The FEELING of movement, even gull attack! An experience, not just a viewing".
"Adam proposes a wide range of strategies relating to the main elements of his project instigating a dynamic that seeks to extend interdisciplinary engagements, providing an extensive range of dialogue that integrates theoretical and practical concerns, thereby potentially broadening the transmission of knowledge gained through varied interrelated investigations. In this respect the project has been viewed thoroughly and with significant concern for its development and realisation. His proposal and its research questions involve elements of reflective practice that should ensure that issues arising would be addressed and modified as necessary. This flexibility is crucial with reference to occur between the various findings, engagements and processes embedded in the proposal and how each may infiltrate and influence the other.
The project 'A Language for Landscape' offers a significant opportunity to assess and realign artistic practice, is strategies, processes and intellectual and theoretical influences the core of which is centred upon the complexity inherent in aspects of practice and its reciprocation with varied theoretical, speculative and conceptual positions. It seeks to form and develop associations through its structure using art practice as a means of investigation, production and dissemination, seeing the studio as a kind of laboratory and the practice, its materials and processes and its language as instruments of examination and by its very nature bringing diverse voices together. A stimulating feature of this is its uncertain and risk laden aspects with regard to how diverse ways of operating and thinking may influence each other. This framework for engaging with uncertainty and doubt, for changing viewpoints and approaches towards problem solving, conceptualisation and representation, for new allegiances not previously considered or anticipated exist within this proposal to provoke potential. The language and understanding that evolves through the resulting research is likely to establish unpredictable shifts in perception and unexpected exchanges and outcomes.
Such shifts are not solely concerned with different languages of explanation and representation but imply new narratives, innovative and unusual viewpoints and perceptions that would challenge the researcher/artist in relation to previous modes of operation. Knowledge and understanding gained from the collaborative processes, as outlined in the project are likely to influence subsequent modes of representation and presentation, what these attempt to communicate and how it might be communicated. This raises the opportunity of previous practice being expanded and realigned in respect of knowledge new to the artist, the previous practice and the outcomes of that practice being seen as in need of modification.
The intention to document the project during the course of its investigation builds into its structure a reflective engagement with its entire process as a means of its regular appraisal. For Adam Berry this offers a crucial instrument in the assessment of his own practice.
It introduces a diagnostic and intellectual layer into the ongoing discourse as it occurs over its duration, offering focused and mindful reflection and feedback. Such a record is important in detailing the various research processes, methodologies and approaches used and how data and material culled from the research is employed, how understanding has been influenced and changed and how that it reflected in his practice as represented in the outcomes. Additionally this offers a valuable documentation of exchanges and feedback that has occurred, to record and assess those exchanges, to reflect upon what has been gleaned through them, what changes in thinking and perception have arisen, what has worked best, what has been problematic or contentious, what may be put in place for future reference in bringing together diverse ways of thinking, of looking and of making that are at the centre of the research. Such a record would provide a wider exposure of the research undertaken.
This is without doubt a substantial research project".
David Walker Barker MA RCA
"What is tradition? Whom does it serve? Both Gainsborough and Adam raise these questions formally, through the medium of paint, 'traditional' content (Field Sport Series) becomes the means of its own radical subversion. Crucially Adam's work shows that painting, as an art form, can still be relevant and incisive, whatever the 'conceptualists' would have you believe'.
"Until recently regarded as one of Doncasters best kept secrets".
Ben McCall, Doncaster Central Development Trust
"Congratulations Adam. A stunning exhibition".
"Stunning 21st century large scale landscape paintings and drawings by Doncaster based artist Adam Berry inspired by a landscape painting tour of England and Wales made at both his Doncaster studio and at a temporary studio in Somerset which acts as his 'gateway' to the further South West - although Doncaster is the 'compass point' to which he always returns".
Helen Jones, Arts Development Manager, The Point Art Gallery, Doncaster
Key Words, Themes and Defining Characteristics
'Modern painting', more painterly than 'abstract'. Modernist idioms. Strong sense of composition, energy and integrity of a limited palette. Something historical, but done in a contemporary manner.
'Trad Contemporary', 'Neo-romantic', as much about paint, as it is about landscape. A different response to each individual subject or locus - there is no 'one' particular 'style' as such... There is a strong interest in the old notion of the genus-loci, a locations distinctive atmosphere, or spirit of place.
A certain 'Englishness'. Research directions further question the English tradition of the romantic landscape. The 'complex space' of contemporary landscape. Re-visiting old ground. What makes a landscape 'a place'?
A travelling painter, a 'scavenger', a quest for a kind of 'fertile image', a space for a kind of 'active contemplation'. Allegorical.
A holistic approach, a kind of 'three cornered hat'; underpinned by theory, big on research and based upon the 'craft' of picture making - all con-joined with a sometimes practice of 'writing art'. 'A language for landscape'.
Sketchbooks are 'palimpsest'. Large old, leather bound, embossed heavyweight, decorative accountants ledgers and tomes retrieved from skips of redundant textile mills of the 1960's in West Yorkshire.
Sometimes exhibited as art-works in their own right, able to stand alone displayed upon plinths, predella or within cabinets depending upon the nature of the venue or the theme of the exhibition. The notion of the 'in-codices form' artists book.
Originally constructed in 'gathers', folded, stacked and sewn together at the 'fold', individual leaves are often damaged through general use outdoors and by the elements - further distressed, torn and re-assembled through further artistic processes and devices creating 'deckle edged' individual quarto volume sheets of the original folio - simulacra and notion of a landscape palimpsest or a kind of secular manuscript. Landscape as document, individual leaves 'panels' are sometimes fabricated as, or viewed as 'double palimpsest' (two or several layers of image/text) and further annotated with notes of the elements towards possible elongated picture titles as a simplified form of 'writing art' as opposed to 'hyper palimpsest' (where hundreds or more layers of superimposed text and image are sequestered or may co-exist). A metaphor for landscape, a synonym for palimpsest and a different type of record altogether... Allowing the process to work. 'Writing Art' as a textual extension of my studio practice, writing as I paint, an often-time experimental, poetic, list-form type of writing - often made verso, or as notes in the margins, spontaneous, un-self-censored, scribbled down at speed - often the idea's come as you are painting - the work is not always limited to the borders of the canvas. Some pages, only upon request, are removed, mounted for framing and taken away. Ornament and utility. The work taking the sort of form the underpinning theory takes. Materiality of words, an 'egg-like fullness' sometimes paradoxically 'a discourse incomplete'. Implied, but not fully expressed - the logical small change is within the interstices...
Landscape as vehicle 'Fear of the Dog', 'Bad Hare Days', 'A World of Bog and Marsh Grass', 'Before Rain, After Rain' ... in short, an interest in the interplay of text and image, the limitations of painting alone. The importance of the title intrigues - sometimes its all about the title (Field Sport Series) ancient dress codes, a practice that belongs in the middle ages, the metaphors and rituals of time and place, the painting is secondary. Provocation can be subtle, nuanced. 'Darkness Tell Us', 'The Amazing Chinless Wonder', 'Uncomfortable Proximity', 'Vertiginious Exhilleration'. Antiphrasis, bitingly or cruelly ironic, sarcastic, caustic, mordant, ridicule. Tate Mongrel. 'The [Klaus Richter] curdled fragments of cultural history'.
Research for practice, research as practice. Research led by practice. Studio practice and theoretical research since 1994 at a wide variety of landscape locations and contexts. What makes a landscape, a place? Big on primary research and field work. First hand discovery. Secondary research is referenced, but is the work of others. No long distance lenses. "Paintings [Ian Latham] of war, by men who've never been to war". Informal interviews with farmers, coal miners, fishermen, hunt saboteurs and local historians yield expert information. Rich data. Quality not quantity. Research can be dangerous. There is a responsibility to others. Research further questions the English tradition of the romantic landscape. Not what has changed, but what has not changed, and why not. "Awash with anxiety [Dr Sharon Kivland] at a seeping amongst places".
The current project 'A Language for Landscape, No Gold Frames' is a twenty-five thousand mile [seen as ongoing] travelling landscape painters tour of the British Isles began in partnership with the help of The Atkinson Gallery in Somerset and the director Paul Maxfield.
Oil sketches and intermediate studies are framed in site-specific, selected found objects and retrievals from within landscape. 'High relief' fallen gateposts, window frames or old hardwood banisters from an old country inn or cottage, neglected farmyard implements etc are made safe, treated with chemicals, two part fillers or resins as appropriate and fabricated at the workshop into hybrid-form 'sculpture paintings'.
The 'No Gold Frames' series sophisticated, subtle and nuanced but at the same time just about as rough and rustic yet genuine as you are likely to get. Within the small scale h8"x10" and h4"x6" 'Post Card Series' gesso primed intimate wooden panels are typical selected locations and landscape contexts, marine and littoral seascapes, sites of landscape, journeys and the places in-betwixt and in-between relating to an interest in liminality, the limen, or threshold and the idea of the picture frame as a kind of portal into another time or place. Both the picture frame and the 'central imagery' seen as 'partners towards an overall sensation'.
If the above are seen as preparation for practice then the final realised pieces - the large scale, more considered, invested by time, studio paintings are produced as establishment of a context for enquiry that an installation could be seen in terms of the condition of modern painting, the concept of painting as 'not dead yet', as 'zombified', as 'coming back'.
"The picture [Dr Urszula Szulakowska] frame as a 'liminal politisized space". The 'central imagery' as a different response to each individual subject, or motif, no 'one' particular 'style' as such, continuity, consistency, an overall unity and a [Paul Maxfield] 'coherent show' through size, scale considered, tasteful spacing and presentation.
The main studio gallery is based at Doncasters old Art College site 'Church View' (below) and is now being regenerated by Doncaster Central Development Trust by the director Ben McCall and his team and has now been re-branded as C-view a thriving [C.I.C] Community Interest Company.