It’s been a while since I posted on here, due to a house move and a new job start, which also means that this post is a little overdue as the exhibition closed at the end of June. However, I felt it needed a mention anyway.
Firstly, the exhibition space is fantastic – my family and I are regular visitors to Mottisfont Abbey, as my parents are the kind of people whose idea of the perfect day is wandering around a house and garden, and I really like ducks (plus the second-hand bookshop is one of my favourites). The paintings are from the Southampton City Art Gallery collection and were shown in the upstairs of the abbey, and was the first exhibition I’ve seen in the space. Unlike a typical gallery, this National Trust site uses its character to complement the works, which are shown in rooms with ghosts of wallpaper and an emphasis on the previous tenants. The works range from landscapes to abstracts, and many of the artists are local.
Before this exhibition I was close-minded about the medium; it reminds me of learning to paint at school, and the futility of scraping one’s paintbrush over those little coloured blocks in the hope of creating rich, bold colour before the paper wrinkles up. But the pieces shown in this exhibition portray the diversity of the material – expressive line drawings with washes of colour; surrealist creatures on bright backgrounds; detailed and vibrant paintings of recognisable buildings around Hampshire. My particular favourites were the most contemporary pieces, but the more traditional examples have made me realise how versatile watercolour actually is.
(Sadly, because I waited so long to write about this, I have forgotten the examples I was going to give, and the public weren’t allowed to take pictures. I’ll be better next time, I promise!)