Brian Graham’s Great Heath paintings at Sladers Yard

BRIAN Graham, the Swanage-based abstract landscape painter, is one of the featured artists in the Dorset summer show at Slader’s Yard, West Bay, from 14th May to 2nd July.

The distinguished artist, who work explores prehistoric structures, man’s footprint on the landscape and our connections to the past, has turned his attention to a local subject, the Great Heath.

Celebrated by Thomas Hardy, the heath originally stretched between Dorchester where Hardy lived and Bournemouth where Brian Graham grew up. As an important habitat, it is now being restored by the National Trust, RSPB and Natural England amongst others.

For Hardy it was the atmospheric setting for The Return of the Native and also featured in The Mayor of Casterbridge as a form of Shakespearean elemental heath.

Brian Graham’s paintings feel their way to Hardy’s time and further back, inspired by the Paleolithic and Bronze Age remains found in the area. These paintings bring the artist back to his own earliest childhood memories; memories which seem to have shaped a part of his dreams and emotional landscape ever since.

The other painters featured in the summer show are David Atkins, Julian Bailey, Martyn Brewster, Vanessa Gardiner, Frances Hatch, Janette Kerr and Alex Lowery, all familiar names at Slader’s Yard. The exhibition also includes recent ceramics by Gabriele Koch and furniture by the resident designer-maker Petter Southall.

Thomas Hardy is present in some of  Julian Bailey’s new paintings. The exhibition includes recent works that combine figure painting with an exciting level of abstraction, including contemporary responses to Hardy’s novels.

Frances Hatch’s paintings are characterised by the immediacy of her response to the location she is painting – each of her pictures is a moment of time in a particular place. Materials from that place will be included in the picture, every element reflecting what she found when she was there.

Pictured: To Lasting Barrows and Long-Vanished Barracks (Louis MacNeice), by Brian Graham; Winter Sunset, Lyme Regis, by David Atkins;  Cadmium Deep Dawning. Very low tide. Charmouth, Dorset, by Frances Hatch.