LYMINGTON’s St Barbe Museum & Art Gallery hosts an inspiring and intriguing autumn exhibition, Unsettling Landscapes: The Art of the Eerie, co-curated by natural history writer and environmental thinker Robert Macfarlane, continuing until 4th January.
With work by some of the most important artists of the past 100 years, the exhibition explores eerie representations of rural landscapes from the aftermath of the First World War to the present.
In his essay for the catalogue Macfarlane, author of Underland, The Old Ways, Landmarks and more, explains that the eerie “involves that form of fear which is felt first as unease then as dread, and it tends to be incited by glimpses and tremors rather than outright attack. Horror specialises in confrontation and aggression; the eerie in intimation and intimidation.”
The exhibition is grouped around four overlapping themes: Ancient Landscapes, features that are inexplicable and mysterious that connect us to the unknown distant past; Unquiet Nature, natural forms used to unsettling effect, such as trees, lonely expanses of heath and the borderlands where different worlds meet; Absence/Presence, how the inclusion or absence of figures and objects invoke the eerie through uncertainty and suggestion; Atmospheric Effect, the influence of weather, season, light and time of day on our responses to landscape.
Artists represented include Paul Nash, Graham Sutherland, John Piper, Monica Poole, Henry Moore, Ithell Colquhoun, Edward Burra, George Shaw, Ingrid Pollard, Laurence Edwards, Blaze Cyan and Annie Ovenden. There are also illustrations for the ghost stories of M R James and eerie artwork from the Ghost Box record label.
Pictured: Stanley Donwood, Dark Hedges; Paul Nash, Monster Field; Graham Sutherland, Pastoral.