Esther Thorniley-Walker

2018, BA (Hons) Fine Art, University of Brighton

"I construct my own landscapes through the labour of mark-making with the intention of getting lost in the fragmented space between memory and reality. My paintings gain inspiration from my sketched documentation, mainly pastel, of natural representations of landscape in velvet tapestry patterns. However, I try to liberate the gentle and tamed imagery of landscape, turning the pattern back into something living by juxtaposing the domestic pattern with my mental image of wild moorland pattern. I find the dramatic marks add to the commentary on attempted taming of the wild and convey the conflicts - that as the wild is brought within civilization it slips away and evades control. The tapestries from which I derive inspiration for my imagery intrigue me with their crisp detail of plants and trees created by the stitches - realism is not as important as pattern, which is produced through flat plains and colour form. I have sought to go beyond figurative representation, instead focusing ‘up close’, translating the landscape into a mental scape. I find that when painting I get lost in the marks and movement, no longer viewing the piece as a direct representation but more as an emotional response.
I have seen parallels within my work of artist David Milne whose landscapes similarly tackled the subject of wilderness through pattern and the book Walden by transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, who submerged himself in nature. My work has also been inspired by William Blake who uses dark brooding colours to depict the imagination and the spirituality of nature. I similarly enjoy the subtleties of using dark colours that create far more emotional intensity and my choice of tones seek to transcend realism. However, it is not only Blake’s art but also his poetry that has affected my work. I find literature is an inextricable link to my art. My work also provides a contemporary rethinking of the ‘gothic’ relationship to nature and beauty, deconstructing conventional Romanticism. In particular, I pursue the freedom from social constraints in the interaction between women and landscape - as explored in the literature of Angela Carter, Clarissa Pinkola Estés and Emily Bronte. Whilst I have been inspired by stereotypical female craft - i.e. embroidery and tapestries, I use detailed expressive brushmarks to replicate the sensation of stitch work. Therefore, by using fluid painterly brushstrokes to depict landscape in its rawest and wildest state, I seek to break down the gendered thinking about textile work by reinterpreting the aesthetic and removing the boundaries. "
Wind Wrecked.jpg
Wind Wrecked
Oil paint on circular board
100 cm in diameter
Wastes beyond wastes below.jpg
Wastes beyond wastes below
Oil paint on canvas
170 cm x 120 cm
Silver fountains mud.jpg
Silver fountains mud
Oil paint on canvas
147.7 cm x 147.7 cm