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WILLOW – Nigel Buxton – 26 May-20 June, 2015

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I first drew willows 30 years ago. Planted as shade trees by the early settler farmers in an otherwise treeless and harsh environment they developed and grew into gnarled monsters, breaking themselves under the strain of their own weight and fierce storms. They were close to the cottage and a quick walk away.

Armed with easel, drawing boards and draughting materials, I positioned myself close, a few feet away, so that bulk and bark were almost at touching distance. For the previous few months (winter being too cold for outside work) I had been working on still-life compositions, highly controlled in a studio environment. En plein air, as we all know, is a complete mess, with flies, sand flies, wind and shifting light. It needed to be sorted out. So I took a saw with me and disposed of annoying branches that didn’t accord with my intended task. Rocks were moved strategically and, because gazing beyond the bulk of the tree my vision encountered elements not pleasing to my eye, I draped large tarpaulins over some of the branches in order to encompass my subject. I was, in effect, creating an outside still-life. This was good, because if you don’t try to control your external subject, make it still, how can you map the movement within yourself that occurs in trying to apprehend and make a sense of what you are looking at.

The trees in three of the drawings shown here no longer exist. They were cut down. Others survived, and are featured in the photographic montages I made this year. The drapes are back too. Silky and theatrical bringing the outside in, making the external internal.

Nigel Buxton
16th May 2015

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