SHETLAND’s rich archaeological heritage and diverse natural environment are stunningly portrayed in the latest exhibition at Da Gadderie from Shetland based artist Angela Hunt, writes Alex Purbrick.
Locations is Angela’s first exhibition in Shetland since moving here in 2008 when she came to work as a senior lecturer in Creative Industries at Shetland College UHI.
Shetland’s dramatic landscapes and enigmatic prehistoric settlements were part of her driving force in relocating to the isles and over the years her inner vision and desire to paint grew, resulting in this exhibition.
Immersing herself in the environment, and responding to the ever changing light, sounds and smells of nature, Angela developed a series of sketchbooks, which are a central feature of this exhibition, images from which are projected onto the gallery wall.
These sketchbook drawings form an intricate study of the myriad of sites Angela has drawn and painted across Shetland. ranging from Brecon Sands in Yell, the view from the cliffs at Funzie Bay, Fetlar as well as paintings of eggs made in the Fair Isle Bird Observatory study room.
Her sketchbooks are immaculately preserved and form a testament to the countless hours of research Angela has conducted on the archaeological history of ancient sites within Shetland, especially the broch at Mousa and the prehistoric settlement of Jarlshof in the South Mainland.
From these sketches Angela developed a series of paintings inspired by Mousa Broch. Through the use of collage she depicts the layers of time and epochs of man that lie fragmented through the landscape and unifies them together by the cohesiveness of the broch, whose strength and timelessness hold the composition of the paintings in unity and remind us of the immense talent of our ancestors who built this imposing structure.
The broch paintings were inspired by British post war artist Prunella Clough. Angela expressed how “these paintings of the Cooling Towers by Prunella Clough were an inspiration to me, a man made giant of the modern industrial age”.
“Somehow I look at the brochs in Shetland and am reminded of the cooling towers which are a similar shape yet the brochs are more in harmony with their surrounding landscape.”
The mark making and attention to design and detail are the fundamental attributes to Angela’s work, stemming from her background in textile design.
As a graduate of textile design from Derby College of Art, Angela worked as a textile designer from 1977 to 1990, creating designs for printed textiles which were produced in the UK and worldwide.
Her textile work was exhibited in New York, Nottingham and throughout the North West of England. But it is painting, her first love, which led her to study painting at Lancaster University. She states: “Since I did my first oil painting at 16 I developed my absolute love of paint. I like different mediums in paint. I enjoy the process of paint.
“During the 1990s I produced large 6ft abstract paintings which I enjoyed. I had to get away from decorative mark making which I had done in textiles.”
She has exhibited paintings in group shows in North West England and London, was a finalist in the NatWest prize for art, and BP Oil Europe’s artist project prize.
The diversity of Angela’s artistic ability and talent is certainly reflected in her current exhibition at Da Gadderie and illustrates an accomplished artist who can celebrate a lifetime achievement of making art their life passion.
Locations is a powerful reflection by an artist who has peeled back the surface of the Shetland landscape to reveal and paint an array of colours and textures which capture the essence of the natural world and the dynamic impact our prehistoric ancestors have held on our modern environment.
Locations is on at Da Gadderie in the Shetland Museum and Archives in Lerwick until Sunday 24th June 2018.