The vertical paintings about the varied Cornish coastline are hybrids of style, process and thematic content. The work is the outcome of scouring, built accretions of paint, collaging, sanding down and cutting on thick, stiff, robust sheets of handmade paper dipped in gesso or jesmonite. Such processes echo the climatic, geomorphological or historical events that, over long periods of time, mould the topographical features and fashion the ‘genius loci’ unique to each stretch of coastline under scrutiny.
The use of artistic technique to fathom superficial appearance and excavate landscape evolution over vast periods of time has a venerable lineage in British art in general and in modern Cornish painting in particular. John Tunnard before the war and Peter Lanyon, Alex MacKenzie and John Wells after it led more recently to Roy Ray, Margrit Clegg, Larr Cann and Clive Williams adapting plastic process to mystically- or scientifically-inspired investigations into archaeological or geological landscape features. The romanticism of this content is subjected to an analytical formalism drawn from diverse modernist movements like cubism, constructivism and expressionism.
From Sandy Mouth near Hartland in the far north down through Tintagel to west Penwith and around the Lands End peninsular to the more sheltered environs of Mounts Bay, Gunwallow and the Lizard, Gardiner has responded to a variety of places in a manner that posits refreshingly different linear, tonal and chromatic complexions.
A well-thumbed wartime issue of the Ward Lock ‘Pictorial and Descriptive Guide’ to Cornwall was used to chart unfamiliar territory. Another important source was Richard Fortey’s ‘The Hidden Landscaper: Journey into the Geological Past’ (Pimlico 1993) and ‘The Earth’ (Harper Collins 2004). In works like ‘Sandy Mouth’, ‘Mullion Cove’, ‘Kynance Cove’, ‘Porthcurno’ and ‘Tintagel’ are panoramic vistas in which earth, air and water are transformed through the matter and substance of paint and colour to create compelling evocations of place.