Pastoral: An exhibition of stone lithographs.
Running through the veins of British art is a romantic sensibility that is particularly manifested in its history of landscape painting. A flourishing of the genre in the late 18th Century, seen in the work of Gainsborough, Turner and Constable helped to establish a thriving economy for landscape art. At the time, an increasing popularity and interest in the subject, led to a surge of tourism to the English countryside. Printmaking played its part in promoting the genre; both Turner and Constable commissioned the services of professional printers and engravers to reproduce images of their work for publication and sale. At the same time, their largely unknown contemporary, the seminal English poet, artist, printmaker and trained engraver, William Blake, was using the medium of print to develop his much less orthodox vision of the world.
Highly influenced by Blake, the young Samuel Palmer began to develop his own very individual interpretation of mankind’s relationship with nature, and created images of his local countryside that continue to influence and inspire artists today. Unlike the increasingly lavish scale of the landscape paintings of the time, his intimate works depict a distinctly poetic vision of the pastoral idyll. Far from speedily captured observations of the outdoor environment, the sometimes painstakingly detailed images, appear to be drawn from the depths of the artist’s inner world. In the making of drawings, paintings and prints, the artist was perhaps not so much creating two dimensional representations of a visible reality, as navigating the threshold between real and imagined spaces. From the confines of the studio, the tools and processes of drawing and printmaking enabled Palmer to re-configure the world outside as a mystical dwelling place for the imagination.
In this series of lithographs, produced over the last two years, the artist Serena Smith depicts her local landscape. Drawing on the work of Samuel Palmer, these stone lithographs are her personal reflection on the rich heritage of the English pastoral tradition. As an accomplished printmaker, both Serena’s working methods and the emergence of her visual ideas are informed and shaped by technology – integral to the substance of her printed images are the means by which they are made. In recent work digital imaging techniques are combined with hand drawn work on stone, to develop the pictorial syntax that she uses to create evocative and hauntingly beautiful images of her everyday environment.
Serena Smith is an English artist and printmaker based in Leicestershire. She trained in lithography at the Curwen Studio, and fine art at Central Saint Martins School of Art. Her practice includes a range of educational, technical and collaborative projects in printmaking. In partnership with Leicester Print Workshop, she is mentor for the Lithography Internship, a year long programme of bespoke training in fine art lithography, offered to a postgraduate artist-printmaker; the position is currently held by Kathryn Desforges, technician at WYPW. Serena is represented by Eagle Gallery, London; and Tarpey Gallery, Castle Donington.
For more information visit www.serenasmith.org