Articles by Huw David Jones
During the Second World War, the Ministry of Labour funded a project called ‘Recording Britain’ that commissioned artists to document important buildings and landscapes before they were destroyed by enemy bombardment. I was reminded of this when I heard about Shirley Anne Owen’s plans to make a visual survey of National Trust sites along the Welsh coastline. But instead of the German Luftwaffe being the threat this time, it is global warming: this is a landscape at risk due to rising sea levels over the next century.
The resulting exhibition, Changing Coastlines, features 14 large-scale paintings and over 60 drawings, as well as a series of further dry point etchings and collagraphs of associated subjects. As could be expected, the work has a melancholic feel, reminding viewers of the beauty which stands to be lost, as well as the transitory nature of our coastline. Many of the paintings recall the work of Neo-Romantics like John Piper or Kenneth Rowntree, who worked in Wales as part of the Recording Britain project.
Also included in the exhibition is a series of landscape-inspired sculptures by ceramist Becky Foster. These focus on jagged rock forms and exposed flora, but have a smooth, almost buttery feel about them. They perhaps detract from the solemnity of the main work, although they’re attractive pieces nonetheless.
Changing Coastlines: Shirley Anne Owen and Becky Foster is at the Washington Gallery, Penarth from Tues 7 Oct to Fri 31 Oct, 2008.
This post was originally published by Buzz magazine.