Jurassic Coast | Vision and Memory


Jeremy Gardiner’s recent series The Jurassic Coast is comprised of horizontal paintings on stiff, robust, deckled sheets of handmade paper dipped in gesso. They pay homage both to a twenty-mile strip of Purbeck coastline that is one of the most ancient landscapes and to a place where he spent much of his childhood and adolescence. They follow on from previous works, such as the bulky wood reliefs that make up the Ballard Point (1998) and Corfe Castle (2003) series, in offering at once concrete and visionary, architectonic and naturalistic, scientific or technological and mystical interpretations of a place. Such interpretations in Gardiner’s capable hands therefore employ both abstract and representational means while aiming for what the art historian Margaret Garlake has termed “a synthesis of vision and memory”.

The geologically varied Dorset landscape, celebrated in Paul Nash’s landmark study The Shell Guide to Dorset (1935) has inspired Gardiner, a native and an artist who, like the Cornishman Peter Lanyon, has intimately explored a site specific landscape in order to understand its structure as a complex outcome of time and process. The working methods employed to reach Gardiner’s hard-won multi-perspectival and experience-based rendition of Jurassic coast – scouring, building accretions of paint, collaging, sanding down, graffiti marking and the like – echo these climatic and geomorphological events that, over eons of time, give us what we see, touch, feel and smell today.

Gardiner’s exploratory landscape zeal has taken him to sea, in a hired boat from Swanage, and to the sky, in a hired high-wing Cessna from Compton Abbas airfield. Places like Kimmeridge, Dancing ledge, Chapmans Pool, Old Harry and Durdle Door are seen in differing lights and perspectives, experiences that, filtered through memory and imagination not to mention the license of abstraction and plastic interpretation in the studio, yield the tantalising, challenging and equivocal images of the final artworks.

Peter Davies