An online exhibition of new works by Harry Cory Wright
June 12th – July 10th, 2020
It is with great excitement that The Fairhurst Gallery now presents Harry’s second solo exhibition Pastel Reliefs: exploring place through shape, tone and colour. These new works meditate upon the essence of place – landscapes which simultaneously offer limitless future possibilities and an abundance of memories which have already shaped us. Continuing to explore the North Norfolk coast these works have been inspired by the fields and woods around Burnham Market, the mill at Burnham Overy Town, Iken Church and Aldeburgh streets side gardens in flower.
We invite you to explore the intense pleasure that emanates from the apparent simplicity of placing colour and form, overlaid in soft, muted shapes and palettes. The instrinsic beauty in these abstract reliefs lies in Harry’s great talent for replicating the intangible essence of a landscape. His eye for this is unequalled, alongside his insatiable desire to share with us, the fulfilment he derives from physically experiencing the places he engages with. This sense of utter contentment is now relayed in these exceptionally gratifying, confectionary-like reliefs.
Some questions for Harry:
We are so excited to see these reliefs. They have a tactile sensibility which speaks to me of your photos and drawings combined with the physicality of the landscape itself. What drew you to these materials? Can you talk us through the process?
I wanted to bring the element of physicality to the work. The drawings with their very gestural approach have always run in parallel to the simply ‘visual’ and literal recording element of photography. Using the big camera is of course a very physical affair, as much as I can make it frankly. However the actual rendering of the image onto the film, and the making of the print is not so physical at all. The making is all really before you press the shutter. The drawings are the opposite of this, more a direct access to the emotional response to a place. These reliefs with their 3-dimensional qualities I hope take that one stage further.
Do you refer to your photographic practice as fine art? Or do you separate the two, with these new reliefs existing more under the umbrella of ‘Fine Art’?
The more I work on the drawings and relief work the more I see the limitations but also the opportunities of photography. I am looking at very similar themes in each practice about the experience of being part of landscape but of course the methods of interpretation are very different. This can be confusing at times but overall there is a dynamic between the two that gets richer and stronger. Often the identification of a limitation of one practice, exposes the capacity within the other. So more and more I feel they are becoming one practice.
In the past you have worked closely with places such as Scolthead Island, the marshes and estuaries of east anglia are these new works related to specific locations?
Yes. The work always starts off with a specific place in mind, for example the fields and woods around Burnham Market, the mill at Burnham Overy Town, Iken Church, and Aldeburgh streets side gardens in flower. During the process of making the work I am aware of an intense distillation of the visual representation afforded by the simplicity of colour and form. This in turn frees up the locations to the point where places start to amalgamate within various works, hence it is unhelpful to identify places too clearly. All these places become very familiar, cross over, shift about. I am very much working with these areas of classic landscape by the sea; woods to the edge of the water at sunrise, pretty streets in sunlight, fields, hedges, jetties, rivers, copses, flowers, creeks and salt marsh.
You talk about the ‘potential’ in a landscape which excites you. What do you mean by this?
A place can be charged with its history. I am more interested in looking at places that offer a sense of their own future where something is about to happen. I seek a sense of tension, albeit often a very serene one, that the place is all set up and ready to go with exits, entrances perhaps… a stage that is set. In the relief work, with its simple structure, there is limited opportunity for this, so I have been working on colours, tones and shapes that indicate a first response to a landscape; the first things you would notice before the ‘literal visual’ took over.
They have a ‘chalky’ dryness which is in opposition to the fluid marks of your inky watercolours. Is this speaking of different types of landscape (dunes, concrete slabs) or is it driven more by emotive reasoning?
I am interested in how each medium lends itself best to the practice I am working on. These works are all chasing a simplicity of gesture and creation that belies but also intensifies the thought behind their creation. I am fascinated by this tension. It is important that the water colour marks do not look like anything beyond the marks they are. I want them to be limited in their representational capacity so that they can sit in this exciting world between something abstract and something figurative. This seems to me fertile ground within which to explore place and landscape. The pastel reliefs should do the same thing; they are shaped boards covered in a single colour and tone, no more. The work therefore is about the relationships therein.
They bring to mind for me, the paintings of Paul Klee, which artists do you feel drawn to at the moment and in what ways do they inform your work?
Ben Nicolson is right there of course, though I find myself pushing against his geometric formality. I would love to be more reckless with my shapes but I think my work needs to be bounded by the constraints of classical landscape rather than a desire to crash about. As a result the pieces have an unintimidating composition, familiar I hope in their relationship with the work of Nicolson and other modernists. However that is as far as it goes because the tension comes from the work’s dialogue with contemporary colour photography and the assumptions we all make knowing that medium and the intensity of its common currency.
How do you decide on your palette?
Hours of play and a desire for self belief.
Take a tour of Harry’s North Norfolk studio in the exclusive video for The Fairhurst Gallery below: