Sue Lewis-Blake SGFA
Based in Derbyshire, Sue lives almost as far away from the sea as it is possible to be, but family connections mean that she has been fortunate enough to regularly visit Guernsey. She has become inspired by the light, colour and coastline of the island, by the marine landscapes that she finds it such a treat to see, and by the intriguing nautical details able to be sketched in harbours and bays. A variety of subjects appear in Sue’s paintings with sequences emerging as each theme is explored in detail. Paintings may encompass several media and frequently rely on interplays of surface and technique. Produced over the past two years, “Sandscapes” is one such collection of paintings, drawings and original prints.
Sue’s work has always been underpinned by drawing from direct observation and, in recognition of these skills, she has been elected a member of the illustrious National Society of Graphic Fine Art [The Drawing Society]. When first offered the opportunity of an exhibition at the Coach House Gallery, plans were made for regular drawing trips to Guernsey, but the pandemic prevented this from happening, adding a considerable challenge. Paintings for the exhibition had to become “about” rather than “of” Guernsey; ideas had to evolve from existing sketchbooks and photographs were needed as aides-memoirs. Shells collected over the years came in handy too! Having always given a great deal of thought to the structure and composition of her finished work, rows of boats recorded in sketchbooks, tied on their long lengths of seaweed-draped rope gave ample scope for starting points, as did patterns of sand, rocks and shells.
There is a certain poignancy about an expanse of evening beach, when the day’s enjoyment becomes a memory and sandcastles are inevitably overwhelmed by the sea. New ones will be built tomorrow. Boats may also lie secured and alone until they need to be retrieved. For Sue, this concept of remaining hopeful, looking forward, collaborating and creating despite having to accept loss and distance gained a particular resonance during the pandemic. Sandcastles provided an analogy, becoming a recurring motif. “Remains of the Day” is an image of a large set of structures, standing as testimony to many hours of creativity but now a gift to the sea.
In a 12th century story, King Canute demonstrates to his flattering courtiers that even he has no control over the elements. Political power is nothing in comparison. In the painting entitled “Canute” a single tower made of sand faces distant waves.
“Sandscapes” is a genuine celebration of coastal landscapes and marine themes inspired by Guernsey but with broader relevance and added intensity because of the circumstances in which the pictures were produced.
©Sue Lewis-Blake 2021