Southport Contemporary Arts
ArtHouse, 65 Eastbank Street, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 1EJ
23rd May– 3rd June 202
The stage is all set for the unveiling of Southport professional artist and mentor, Angela Birchall’s new solo exhibition at the ArtHouse on Eastbank Street.
A self-confessed life-long devotee of Renaissance painter, Leonardo da Vinci, for her latest presentation Angela has taken the theme of ‘light and dark’ in admiration of his expert use of the technique of ‘chiaroscuro’.
The term comes from the Italian words ‘chiaro’, meaning light, and ‘oscuro’, which means dark. Leonardo was a key exponent of the practice of generating intense contrasts between light and shadow to create convincing three-dimensional scenes and Angela has similarly accepted the challenge with her current canvases.
“There are so many ‘lights’ to portray: I start with daylight with bright scenes of daily life including sunlight sparkling on the water. Then there’s the incredible light as the sun sets and daylight turns to nightlight along with the softer early morning light. Within the darkness of the night there’s the stunning light shows of the Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis – otherwise known as the Northern and Southern Lights. To add to the line-up, starlight will also be turned into stars in the spotlight.”
Not content with a pure representation of each subject, Angela is also interested in provoking personal visual narratives within her paintings: “By portraying natural phenomena, that we are all aware of, my artwork is ‘reporting’ on what they look like, but as an artist, I also want my work to trigger an emotional response in the viewer. I know that light and dark – especially the dark – will conjure up strong emotions, so I have works where I am using lights playing in the darkness to create magical, mystical effects”.
Explaining her approach, Angela adds: “We never know what’s hiding in the darkness, when it will emerge, and then disappear again, but things can also appear to vanish in the light. I have often worked on creating images where parts of it are missing to show how the brain fills in those missing parts – such as the Egret in my watercolour painting. This inspired me to work on images of ‘our vanishing wildlife’ where it’s the subject as well as the painted image that is disappearing. For example, the endangered polar bear whose white fur is seeming to vanish into the white snow of its ice cap home which is also melting and vanishing”.
One of Angela’s paintings will be donated to the annual “Sketch for Survival” organised by Explorers Against Extinction who ask artists to donate an artwork to be auctioned to raise funds for their conservation projects around the world: “As one of their big projects this year is centred around Etosha Pan in Namibia where I spent many happy childhood holidays, the work is especially meaningful to me. When I thought about life in the Namib Desert, I remembered the extreme brightness of the desert sunlight. I will be including a portrayal of that light bouncing off the knife-sharp edges of the sand dunes in that seemingly totally inhospitable, yet remarkably beautiful, part of the world”.
Does that take Angela away from her theme of ‘light and dark’?: “No, because it was growing up and going to art school in Southern Africa that I first learned about Leonardo and how to use the technique of ‘chiaroscuro’.”
Certainly not one to be missed, this latest showing by Angela will be on display at the ArtHouse, Eastbank Street, Southport from 23rd May– 3rd June 2023. The gallery is open Tuesday – Friday 10.00-15.00. Saturday 11.00-16.00.