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Private Road with Annie by Paul Kessling

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The Modern Artists Gallery

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Painting above: Private Road Ghosts. Painting below (left): The Smalls – Celtic Deep. Painting below (right): Private Road Night

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Private Road Ghosts – the reflections add yet another dimension to this painting

Visiting an art gallery with a pre-schooler in tow is a challenge but sometimes you need to seize the opportunity. I recently went off to The Modern Artists Gallery to see Paul Kessling’s exhibition ‘Above above’ which was thoroughly inspiring. He is exploring new styles of work including fat slabs of rich colour that dribble paint drops. To counterbalance these abstract paintings are realistic images where the landscape appears to draw you in surrounding you by sea and sky. However, my favourites were his series of Private Road paintings. One of the reasons for this is that the private road he draws his inspiration from is near our home. I love cycling up the Ridgeway and looking down at the Private Road that links two villages with an austere line of pines running parallel to it. Sometimes these trees are shrouded in mist, sometimes they slice up the eyewatering oil seed rape fields and sometimes they shimmer in a dazzling heat. Admittedly the latter is seldom! In the image ‘Private Road with Annie’ the trees appear to loom and shroud the spectator and Annie becomes a dog shaped hole. This illusion is exaggerated by the sheer size of the painting and it was definitely my favourite. I often wonder about the history of these trees on the Private Road and wish I knew who planted them and why, and if they mark an ancient route. I know that Scots pine trees were used as ancient way-markers to demarcate drover roads when sheep and cattle were walked long distances to market. They were also used to mark where trackways crossed particularly on high ground or to act as a sign post that the farmer would buy and sell stock however it seems odd to see an entire row of trees so close together.

Paul’s comment sums up much of what I feel, “There is something very mysterious about this track; the trees preside over a modern agricultural landscape like Easter Island statues. Behind them sit Grim’s Ditch and the Ridgeway; they stand as sentinels to a farming past that has been replaced with vast fields which lay bare the undulations of the earth’s  surfaces.”

View Paul Kessling’s website here:
Read about my Larks and Drovers’ walk on my blog

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My pre-schooler has now finished admiring art!