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‘Bridget Macdonald – Inland’, Art First, London


Inland II
17 October to 9 November, 2006

Bridget Macdonald’s new paintings concern landscape and memory. In these she combines literary and art historical sources with her own roots in the English countryside, moving inland from the familiar coastal landscape of the Isle of Wight where she was born, to the country around the Malvern Hills where she now lives.

While the buildings and landscape stem from observation, the light and atmosphere of these scenes evokes another dimension: the Arcadian landscapes of Claude and Poussin and the dark vistas of Renaissance painting that have shaped the English Landscape tradition.

Macdonald is conscious, however, of the harsh contemporary reality beyond the rural idyll. Deep pools of shadow fall across what are depictions of great loss.

As with the Lighthouse in an earlier series, here a white farmhouse, viewed across a valley, appears as a motif, building associations of distance and inaccessibility into the scene.

Sheila McGregor writes in the catalogue essay accompanying this exhibition: “It is the tension between things observed and things remembered, between the immediacy of a specific visual stimulus and a process of retrospective distillation, that gives her work its power.”

From her drawings the image of Pan, the God of Flocks and Woods, presides over these elegiac landscapes