David Abbott

Sandpipers, Alnmouth by Winifred Nicholson

Landscape is our great common denominator, but our relationships to landscape vary person to person.

My early life gave me resonant landscapes. The small, plain weekend landscapes of Hertfordshire that to my mind are always autumnal, piled with leaves, misted with blue woodsmoke and navigated in wellies. Visited so regularly that they developed a lived-in familiarity. The more dramatic hills and dales of Derbyshire where we decamped twice a year or so for an awfully long walk. Aqua green grass, stone walls, a river. Big, carved spaces. Something else.

American landscapes should bubble up more regularly in my (sub)conscious given the eight years I spent there and the strong emotional ties I still feel. But rural Virginia is quite a British landscape, and perhaps there was enough overlap that I didn't notice the differences. One landscape on a long drive between Phoenix, Arizona and Fort Collins, Colorado, was so vast I couldn't process it. When we reached Denver and fell in among flickering aspens I was much more at home. In Tanzania, another such gargantuan valley where the dawn of humanity felt close by, but the resonant frequency ultimately escaped me. Now it is unremarkable landscapes that make good starting points, speaking quietly enough that I might add something to the conversation.

To what degree is the landscape of home your only landscape? What forms your resonant landscape? And under what condition might a new landscape also resonate? What other factors are at play: family, stories, songs, lives led, flora and fauna, history, culture, privilege, climate change.

Resonance is the spirit material from which I want to make paintings. For my starting point I’m looking for landscapes that generate emotion. All of my work needs to dial home first and foremost. The other innumerable factors - which are the products of living life, and looking - take the starting point and make it wider, transmitting messages on other frequencies. As such, the places from which my paintings begin really need not be named. Knowing adds nothing. Knowing is a limiting factor.

October 22, 2021

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