‘Body of Water’ at Sunny Bank Mills

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January 2021 began with the opening of the group show ‘Body of Water’ at Sunny Bank Mills, Leeds. I was busy preparing and wrapping ‘Somewhere Along the Way’ and ‘Following Gritstone’ before I dropped them off at the beautiful gallery space ready to be hung…

And then Lockdown number 3 happened in the UK, which wasn’t a surprise but still a little disheartening. Nevertheless I’m over the moon to have two of my paintings installed alongside work from Yorkshire Artists including: Anna Lilleengen, Brian Hindmarch, Emma Whitelock, Emma Wylie, Eric Moss, Gail Dooley, Jane Samuel, Karen Turner, Laney Birkhead, Mike Smith, Nel Whatmore, Si Smith.

The show is a collection of work that has been inspired by water in some way, including photography, paintings, sculpture and ceramics. From the photos taken by Sunny Bank Mills, it looks like an exhibition that would be a joy to walk round, there seems to be some kind of curiosity in every corner, as each Artist has approached the theme with a unique perspective. From the huge variety of work hung on the walls to Eric Moss’s sculptures that lead you across the gallery floor. I wish I could visit in person, but most of all I am sad to have missed out on the opportunity to meet the other Artists and visitors.

Even though I always get nervous at openings, I find myself missing the buzz and excitement. I always start out feeling a little awkward, but every time there will be an interesting conversation or something lovely that’s said or discovered and I miss the excitement and possibilities that comes with meeting people in person.

I keep on reminding myself to make the most of a ‘bad’ situation, nothing compares to seeing work and having conversations in person. But I’m trying to focus on what I can do, instead of focusing on what I can’t do. This has been a huge motivation to improve how I use online social media platforms. After all It’s the one way I can see what everyone’s up to and I’ve been enjoying sharing other Artist’s work and engaging with people that way. I’ve discovered new artists, collectives and galleries, all of which are finding new ways to share their work including, studio tours, interviews and Q&A Sessions!

Lockdown won’t last forever, it is what it is and I aim to keep being pro-active online in the future.

The paintings included in ‘Body of Water’ are all from a series of work that is inspired by frequent hikes in the Peak District, following a path called ‘Grindsbrook’ from Edale that ascends approximately 270m up to the Kinder Plateau. I was inspired by the way the path winds its way alongside the brook, which slowly flows down the side of the Peak, falling rapidly as it drops down from the highest point, then slowing, and pooling in places as it moves down the valley.

After setting off from Edale the path soon transforms from flagstones and level dirt to steep scrambles over rocks, before you know it you’re balancing from boulder to boulder, finding the best footing and leaping over the flowing water of the brook. I wanted to reflect the movement of the water in the paintings; looking at the path it finds through the rocks and in contrast how I find my own way alongside, through and over the brook.

Following Gritstone, Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2019.
Somewhere Along the Way, Oil and Charcoal on Canvas, 100 x 100 cm, 2019.

I have truly missed travelling to and from the Peak District over the winter and seeing the seasons change; I know I’m not alone in craving wilder places (especially if you live in the city). I would have loved to have seen the peaks covered in snow. From chatting to people in the hills last year, I was told stories about frozen waterfalls, thick snowfalls and extreme weather changes in the Peaks. So when we can venture out beyond our local area I’m going to be grateful for every second.

The other day my sister and I walked to *see* the exhibition through the windows. At least the sun was out and we managed to get some apple maple cake from Mill Kitchen Farsley. 

The exhibition has now been extended until 11th April, in the hopes that restrictions may lift enough to allow for visits in person, so fingers crossed!

I hope you’ve all had a positive start to 2021, enjoying the little things!

You can view the exhibition in full here.