Hiraeth

Cuillin Bantock
Highgate Gallery
10 - 23 Jul 2021
Dates:
Saturday 10 July - 23 July
Tuesdays to Fridays 1-5pm, Saturdays 11am-4pm
Sundays 11am-5pm, Mondays Closed

Above: From the Marram – acrylic on canvas  81×61.5cm
© Cuillin Bantock 2017

Looking West: chalk pastel 21.5x28cm ©Cuillin Bantock 2020Described by Bantock as ‘a summation of over fifty years of painting’, most of the work in this wide ranging exhibition is new, and seen here at Highgate Gallery for the first time.  The pastel drawings and watercolours were made during the lockdowns of 2020 and the oil paintings this year.

The exhibition falls broadly into three categories.  The landscapes are in part duneland ‘plein air’ studies in conte or black ink, based on the Harlech Morfa duneland in North Wales, and part non-depictive acrylics and watercolours, also based on maritime Harlech.  The third category is made entirely from memory; chalk pastel drawings of Harlech Morfa and gouache paintings of Barnt Green, the Worcestershire village where the Bantock family lived when not in Wales.

Inside the Post Office: gouache 16x19cm © Cuillin Bantock 2019

All the work conveys a sense of ‘hiraeth’, a Welsh word which cannot be translated exactly, but implies an absence, a longing for homeland that can never be resolved. The external and interior landscapes, whether depictive or abstract, are never nostalgic, but always rigorous in their mark-making, interrogating the ambiguous balance between form and shape, light and space, representation and abstraction.  The studies show the gradual simplification of an aesthetic; as Bantock himself once commented, “possibly echoing the composer Chopin’s 1848 remark, ‘Simplicity is the final achievement’.”

Though retaining strong links with his native Wales, Bantock is based in Crouch End and has shown at numerous exhibitions in UK, Canada, USA and Italy.  He was Director of the Art in Perpetuity Trust from 1995 to 2015 and has contributed to many art publications as well as being the author of books on Cytogenetics and Evolutionary Ecology, having trained originally as a zoologist.  His work is in private and corporate collections in UK, France, Germany, Japan, Australia, USA, Canada, Pakistan, Greece and Mexico.

Bantock’s recent autobiography, ‘Landscapes in the Grain – Recollections of a Zoologist-Painter’, is published by First Servant Books.