Winter Walk (2020) Oil on board 28 x 24cm - Crop detail
Today, we are even more aware of the importance of being outside and enjoying the natural world around us. By interacting with it, spending time in it, experiencing it and appreciating it, we can reap the benefits of feeling happier and healthier as a result. Recollections of these special times and captured moments feed into our shared memories and our dreams.
Through the ‘Discarded Dreams’ series, Brian Neish explores the idea of re-imagining dreams of landscape that seem to be common to us all. He originally devised the series in 2019, in preparation for an exhibition of small paintings due to be hung at the Ivy Brown Gallery in New York in 2020. This was at a time when no one had any idea of the unforeseen impact that Covid that would have on us all.
Brian scavenged local charity and thrift shops for second-hand frames that contained images of landscapes that had clearly once adorned people’s walls or shelves, pictures that presumably meant something to them and that they had valued. He decided to breathe new life into these discarded frames by creating images of mainly woodland landscape in paint on board. He was influenced by the original motifs they once contained while featuring ‘stills’ from dreams he still has. These dreams are derived from memories of personal experiences in landscape, or memorable photographs, or even scenes from films that never seem to fade.
Usually a painting is only framed once it has been completed. However on this occasion, Brian set each of the old frames onto fresh board before starting to paint his dreams and memories of landscape. As he created the paintings the paint started to cover the frames as well. For him, “Colour and texture from the painted images on board spilled out onto the wooden frames in a gesture as though to integrate and embrace them.”
A selection from the Discarded Dreams series
‘Golden Time’ is a painting recalling the memories of summers spent near a former home in France. Brian’s hamlet was surrounded with poplar tree plantations right up to the edge of the Dordogne river. He either walked or cycled around the plantations everyday after working in his studio. Frequently alone at this time, it recalls a moment when he began to appreciate some of the benefits of solitude.
‘The Red Trail’ painting is derived from a dream image provoked by reading about Bill Bryson’s adventures on the Appalachian Trail in his book titled ‘A Walk in the Woods’. Without being overtly spiritual, it nevertheless provokes a sense about pathways being there to follow or deviate from as our lives proceed.
For Brian, ‘Winter Walk’ revives memories of walks in winter along the banks of the river Dordogne. Times spent following the footsteps of others in the snow and leaving behind his own for others to follow. As a former teacher, he always wanted to pass on knowledge, skills, ideas and values he learnt from others, and in doing so hoped this made his life feel worthwhile.
‘Deeper Inside’ is a painting recollecting a walk Brian took deep inside a dense forest of silver birch trees when he was studying Art in the mid-1980s. Excited and fearful at the same time, it references the idea of confronting anxiety head on and trusting in Nature.
Supporting the GROW charity
While the Coronavirus pandemic has postponed the plans for New York, Brian is delighted to be including a total of ten original paintings from the Discarded Dreams series in the GROW online charity art auction running from 1st – 14th February 2021. GROW runs youth development programmes that combine coaching with nature based projects. For each painting sold, 50% of the profit will go to help GROW.
High Peak, Derbyshire based painter Brian Neish is an internationally acclaimed contemporary abstract artist. He is fascinated by painted surfaces and the exploration of time and experience through the layering of oil paint, colour and texture. Brian exhibits at local Derbyshire art shows, national art exhibitions, and international art shows. He is represented by a number of galleries including London Contemporary Art (London, UK), Bell Fine Art (Winchester, UK) and Ivy Brown Gallery (New York City, USA). All works are available for sale.