Brantwood is delighted to welcome back Martin with a new collection of his wonderfully evocative landscape paintings.
I didn’t choose to be a landscape painter. I wanted to keep away from it because, like many over the 20th century and beyond, I thought it to be old-fashioned, the preserve of amateurs. I had been a figure painter until art college which shook me up so much that it took a retreat into photography to metamorphosise me into the painter I am now. In photography, I recorded my solitary experiences, cycling the roads and lanes of Wessex. I became increasingly interested in the details but also the ordinary in the landscape. I recorded objects in their surroundings which would later make me analyse why I was drawn to such things. There was a lot of nostalgia, often a criticism, especially of the British and something I believed I couldn’t talk about in art college. We were supposed to always be modernists. I soon realised that my curiosity with a great deal I was seeing stemmed from early childhood. As the years have passed, I have come to realise that the immediate now is the only thing we can have a chance of being certain. The future will come but it doesn’t exist just as the passed doesn’t. The past is memory and would remain entirely that if we didn’t have modern ways of recording some of it. Yet the past is all we have to use; it is what we base our actions now, upon, and what we have experienced shapes us all.
Returning to painting, I emerged warily with modest paintings, expecting to be roasted by my tutors; the opposite was the case. I was encouraged to believe that I was producing something little seen, genuinely felt and personal; invented landscapes filled with details and perhaps, ultimately, meaning which were a true poetic expression of all my thoughts, ideas, concepts, emotions and atmospheres, all interlinked and difficult, as I find even now, writing this, to easily sum up. It is a difficult territory in which to work. Landscape painting is still seen as peripheral, outdated, the stuff of amateurs and unimportant in the international language of contemporary art and of important issues.
WALKING FROM HOME is a growing body of paintings featuring ‘real’ and invented or re-invented landscapes. I have spent 35 years producing increasingly convincing landscapes which are entirely fictional, just as a novelist invents and like a novel, they are rooted in reality, obeying the science of matter. Recently my growing love of my adopted home (I have lived in the actual Lake District National Park for 24 years, Cumbria for 36 years) and an unexpected interested in painting real landscapes or elements or parts of real landscapes, has resulted in the paintings of the last 18 months. These landscapes are not the obvious tourist views, though they could be if I wanted to, but are places which I have grown to know well. Through walking, I have gradually pieced together, like a jigsaw puzzle, the landscape of the south of The Lakelands, especially of the Winster Valley, which I can walk into from home in Bowness on Windermere. I have long been introspective, enjoying, like Constable, the qualities of my immediate surroundings. I can imagine distant places but don’t have the wanderlust to visit them. For many years I have wished the greater public to get to know and learn to enjoy their own places too, not resorting to the ‘right’ to journey, as privileged Westerners, on polluting, interfering journeys. Now that situation has been forced upon us.
THE SEAS ARE RISING started as a rather superficial, vanity project – to combine the exquisite landscape of the Lake District with the exquisite seas of Cornwall or Pembrokeshire. It is an impossible situation of course. For it to happen would mean Ireland would have to disappear. The seas would have to rise too but as we know, this is happening and will continue to do so. It is a growing contemporary concern. There are, in my view, some very demanding and somewhat hysterical voices and I have my own, logical reasons to not belong to this camp. I am not running around shouting ”The Seas Are Rising!!”. However, painting the three works seen on the walls here left me with a very uneasy feeling of loss and dereliction, realising that I didn’t really want to witness the change to the landscape/seascape of which I have grown so fond. Climate change doesn’t just mean the rise of the seas but the disappearance of flora and fauna which we all hold dear. I worked tropical palms into the paintings but I know that for this to happen would really mean the end of our deciduous trees and even green fields.
The paintings are nonetheless successful. My works have been unpeopled since that metamorphosis at art college; this past year has brought an extra significance to those sometimes, lonely places. Otherwise busy places, thronging with human life have been left quite empty, quieter than at any time since the beginning of the 19th century and probably quieter. Not only are they visually, formally, technically successful but now have added significance because of contemporary events.
Martin Greenland 21st April 2021
M A R T I N G R E E N L A N D: BIOGRAPHICAL NOTES
“I think his painting is superb – the images a striking fusion of arresting myth and exquisite landscape – he gives great picture!”
- Born – Marsden, Yorkshire.
1979 – 1981 Studied Nelson and Colne College (Foundation course)
1982 – 1985 Exeter College of Art
Awarded First Class Honours Degree in Fine Art (Painting)
2019 Miniature, Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
Prized, New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham, Surrey
Unpicturesque, Heaton Cooper Archive Gallery, Grasmere
2018 John Moores UK & China Prizewinners Show, Corke Art Gallery, Liverpool
Tatha Gallery, Newport on Tay, Fife
Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh
New Ashgate Gallery, Farnham, Surrey
2017 Beaux Arts, Bath
2014 Beaux Arts, Bath
2013 Mixed exhibition, Corke Art Gallery, Liverpool
Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London
Dutch Italianates, Mall Galleries, London
GBS Fine Art, London Art Fair, Islington, London
2011 i know a place, Flowers East, London
Charter of the Forest, Usher Art Gallery and Collection, Lincoln
12, Art Gallery at Rheged Exhibition Space, Cumbria
Flashback, 25 Years Anniversary Exhibition, Art Space Gallery, London
2010 Places of the Mind, Art Space Gallery, London
Layers, John Moores Contemporary Painting Prize Show, Seongnam, South Korea
Up-Front Open, Up-Front Gallery, Cumbria
2009 The Witherslack Group, Witherslack, Cumbria
2008 Winter Journey, Art Space Gallery, Islington, London
Outside the Glass, Theatre by The Lake, Keswick, Cumbria
Signal Gallery, London
Red Barn, Melkinthorpe, Cumbria
The Witherslack Group, Cumbria
2007 Beaux Art, Bath
The Lynn Painter-Stainers, Painters Hall, London
Daffodils, Rheged Exhibition Centre, Penrith and Farfield Mil, Sedbergh
Farfield Mill, Sedbergh
2006 FIRST PRIZE WINNER John Moores 24
Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
Up Front Gallery, Hutton in the Forest, Cumbria
Finestra Gallery Kirkby Lonsdale Cumbria
Red Barn, Penrith
Meadowbank Barn, Curthwaite
2005 Finestra Gallery, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria
Meadowbank Barn, Curthwaite, Cumbria
Red Barn Gallery, Melkinthorpe, Cumbria
Up Front Gallery Hutton in the Forest Cumbria
2004 The Witherslack Group, Witherslack, Cumbria
Pinfold Gallery, Bowness on Windermere, Cumbria
Manchester Art Fair
Meadowbank Barn, Curthwaite, Cumbria
Finestra Gallery Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.
2003 Farfield Mill, Sedbergh, Cumbria
Meadowbank Farm Studio, Curthwaite, Cumbria.
2000 Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London. PRIZE WINNER
1998 to present The Lake Artists Society Summer Exhibition, Grasmere
1997 Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London.
1995 – 96 John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 19. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
1993 – 94 John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 18. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
1991 – 92 John Moores, Liverpool Exhibition 17. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool
1989 – 90 John Moores Liverpool Exhibition 16. Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
1987 Abbot Hall, Kendal
1985 – 86 Whitworth Young Contemporaries, Manchester.
2017 New Work, Beaux Arts, Bath
2016 I am (not) Making This Up, Corke Gallery, Liverpool
2016 New Paintings, Castlegate House, Cockermouth, Cumbria
2015 New Paintings, Beaux Arts, Bath
2015 ONE TO ONE, The Blue Gallery, Brantwood, Coniston, Cumbria
2014 Second Novels, Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery, Carlisle
2012 Inventions and Re-inventions, Corke Art Gallery, Liverpool
2011 Uncharted Land, Art Space Gallery, London
2010 New Fiction, Cornerstone Gallery, Liverpool Hope University, Liverpool
2009 Arrangements of Memory, Art Space Gallery, Islington, London
2008 Wall of Silence, Brantwood, Coniston, Cumbria
2008 Alexandra Gallery, University of Cumbria, Lancaster
2008 11 Spitalfields Gallery, Spitalfields, London
2007 Farfield Mill, Sedbergh
2005 Ainscough Gallery, Liverpool
2003 Private Exhibition, Windermere
2002 Bruton Street Gallery, London
2001 Liverpool, Private Exhibition
2000 Piccadilly Gallery, Dover Street, London
1999 Huddersfield Art Gallery
1998 Ainscough Gallery, Liverpool
1997 Piccadilly Gallery Cork Street, London
1996 Ainscough Gallery, Liverpool
1995 Lyth Gallery, Underbarrow, Kendal, Cumbria
1994 Lyth Gallery, Underbarrow, Kendal, Cumbria
1993 Low Crag, Crook, Kendal, Cumbria
1993 Merkmal Gallery, Liverpool
1992 Low Crag, Crook, Kendal, Cumbria
1988 Charlotte Mason College, Ambleside, Cumbria
1987 Gallery North, Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria.
- 2014 North of England Regional Prize winner, Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London
- 2006 First prize winner of the John Moores, 24 – Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool.
- 2003 Commissioned to produce a painting of the newly re-built Paternoster Square, next to St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, which was presented to The Lord Mayor of London, and which now hangs in The Mansion House.
- 2000 GCI Financial Purchase Prize at Discerning Eye, Mall Galleries, London.
- Teaches oil painting part time as a specialist subject