Painting Hereford's Orchards
In 2021 I was commissioned by Apples and People to create an online work celebrating cider orchards in Herefordshire. My response was to create a film derived from paintings made in the orchards, which was also a contemporary take on Camille Pissarro’s paintings of orchards in Éragny-sur-Epte. The project was made over a year in two Herefordshire orchards, the National Trust’s Breinton Springs and the Hereford Cider Museum Trust’s Beckets orchard. I visited the orchards regularly and developed a route to take in particular viewpoints and, start paintings on site ‘en plein air’. My approach combined particular trees, pathways, gates or the church in the compositions. I found that repetitions of three, four or five principal trees created a frieze-like arrangement, adopting Pissarro’s sous bois viewpoint where you look through a screen of trees that structure the picture’s space. One aspect of Pissarro that I found intriguing was the visual thinking in his touch, from fusing brushstrokes that create envelopes of light, to choppy strokes that abstract the forms. What is so fascinating in his work is the way he slowly builds paint up, a kind of meditative approach that reflects upon the passage of time. I also responded to his interest in climate. He paints his orchard in frost, snow, mist, summer haze and all times of the day. I think Pissarro moved away from recording impressions en plein air to recreate the landscape in the studio through memory, giving the work greater self-possession. Pissarro discusses in his letters that his intention is not to record what the scene looks like but to create 'effet’ evoking actual visual sensation.
All paintings are 40 x 100cm. Oil on canvas. 2021-22