Jeremy Gardiner is a place-based painter. In 2015 he embarked on “South by Southwest”, an ambitious five-year voyage around the south coast of England to document the land in paintings and drawings. The Sussex Landscapes series was created as a part of this endeavour, developed over many hikes along the South Downs and the coast of Sussex in 2018.
These are images derived from firsthand experience of the landscape, resulting in an intimate knowledge of the forms and colours that can be found there. They are simultaneously haphazard and full of structure, with rough edges following a textural patchwork resembling the loose grid of a map. Their irregular shapes suggest they were dug up from the ground itself, revealing the geological layers embedded with traces of past and present civilisations.
Gardiner employs the collage process as a formal technique in addition to the purpose of adding colour to each composition. The rough geometric shapes give each piece a sense of atmospheric space, which are tethered to their original locations by the addition of meticulously rendered architectural elements amidst the abstract swaths of earth tones. A solitary lighthouse, the suggestion of a cliffside town, or the slope of a winding road are the only signifiers of human civilisation here. One could read these anecdotes as expressions of a lonely existence, but rather than standing against the organic dispersion of pigments and choppy lines, the structures seem to be at home – integral parts of the land from which they have spontaneously sprung forth.
To live with one of these paintings would be to live with a slice of Sussex itself – not in the imitation of what one might see looking out the window of that lone house on the hill, but in the mood and feeling that can only be achieved by walking the coast oneself. Follow the link below to view the entire collection, as well as the rest of Jeremy Gardiner’s work.