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About the Gallery
About Peter Nahum
Image permission and credit:
LUCY MACKENZIE, MODERN BRITISH
Oil on board
Dimensions: 7.60 cm * 10.80 cm
The model aeroplane, the "Veron Sentinal" was an extremely successful model aeroplane kit designed
1948 by Phil L Smith (born 1916), who was a designer at Veron (Model Aircraft [Bournemouth] Ltd.) Lucy Mackenzie grew up in the Isles of Scilly, a magical setting with its intimacy of scale, clarity of light, and abundance of treasures to collect at the beach; shells, pebbles, sea-worn pottery and glass as well as colourful driftwood- and this profoundly affected the artist and inspired her work. In describing the enchantment of this special place, Partick Heron writes:
One has only to spend a few hours on the Isles of Scilly to be virtually brainwashed by a very special kind of physical space and remoteness. One's whole mode of awareness changes dramatically. One's senses seem liberated. All visual perception appears to be more concentrated and, furthermore, quite effortless. One is aware of one's surroundings to an unusual degree, from the sea-washed twig among the wrack cast up at one's feet on the silver-white sand (tiny flecks of mica gleam everywhere in that sand, like minute silver mirrors) to the Day-glo pinks and yellows of the papery petals of the flowers which sprout from the salty turf at the beach's edge. And surely the clarity of the whitest light in Europe plays its part in all this.
Mackenzie works in an intimate scale, creating oil paintings, drawings, and assemblages that transcend their true dimension. Tying all of Mackenzie's work together is an underlying motive of peace and timelessness; Mackenzie may spend up to six months working on a painting and several weeks working on her coloured pencil drawings. The seeming simplicity of the paintings is deceptive, and is achieved as the artist says:
through the rigorous control of colour and form, with many layers of tiny brush strokes.
a painting may be a pure celebration of something that catches my eye, the pose and fragility of a flower, the pattern on a seashell, the way light falls on plain domestic objects. I like the fact that these sort of objects have been painted by artists for hundreds even thousands of years.
One senses inspiration form the masters. Postcards of some of her favourite artists bedeck the walls of her studio, a work of art unto itself, a `Cornell-like' box of a room filled with treasures collected over years: books, objects of love, feathers, stones, postcards, and the oils she paints with! The eye travels a myriad of journeys as it glances from side to side. Dutch still-lifes, Morandi, Vermeer, Cotan, and Matisse are among the many artists she looks to and admires, as well as the Tudor portrait painters. But like all artists who look to the masters, they are an inspiration to create work of a very personal nature. Mackenzie's most recent paintings delve deeper into two of her signature themes: still lifes and portraits. Her still-lifes are of simple, distilled objects against a singular colour background- sometimes a bright colour, like marigold yellow, at others a neutral colour, like beige or black. They have an ambience of purity with motifs that recur memories of the artist. Clusters of shells refer to her love of the beach from growing up in the Isles of Scilly; flowers in a vase reveal her love of the English garden and the beauty it yields in its flowering; beloved objects in her house are perfumed with personal history as well as affection for the humble universals we surround ourselves with that constitute a life- an old toy clown of miniature scale stands on two antique boxes, small wooden bowls sit on a shelf, perfect geometric objects regal in their bearing; a classic white tea cup on a saucer symbolises a ritual moment. The ordinary becomes extra-ordinary in Mackenzie's depiction of everyday objects, drawing to perfection, raised to objects of silent contemplation.
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