Shadow into Parent Light: Beyond Pembrokeshire, Beyond Landscape

  • Brendan Burns

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    The critical analysis examines and positions new works I produced during my Residency at Oriel y Pare - Landscape Gallery St Davids (a partnership between National Museum Wales and the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park) in 2008-9. The evaluation considers the development of subject matters together with the processes concerned in making artworks since I commenced painting at Cardiff School Art in 1982.

    In order to give a comprehensive picture of my development as a painter, this enquiry includes a biographical framework, referencing progression through Christian iconography and Biblical narrative, mortality, political conflict including the unrest in Wales, England and Northern Ireland. These figurative works were superseded by a visit to New York, where the cityscapes and high viewpoints created more abstract imagery, while yet representing the urban landscape, and where colour became less expressive than in my formative years.

    The Pembrokeshire coast has been my central inspiration and influence for the past fifteen years, where light, reflection, refraction, colour, journey, surface texture and the ambiguity within plan-like space, coupled with a personal correspondence with belief, identity and upbringing have produced significant work. I further consider and present a series of key critical issues that include the role of the spiritual, absence, isolation and mortality. Figuration and abstraction are also explored, as are the processes within my practice: walking, drawing, mark-making, photography and painting.

    Artists with whom I have a particular affinity for their methods of painting and subject-matter are also referenced, especially Frank Auerbach (1931-), Willem De Kooning (1904-1997), Terry Setch (1936-), Peter Prendergast (1946-2007), Francis Bacon (1909-1992) and Howard Hodgkin (1932-).

    The Residency presented the opportunity to pause, reflect, question and produce new work in direct response to a new location, Caerfai Bay. My relationship with the processes of photography, drawing and painting is questioned through an intensely detailed and self-critical analysis as evidenced in the comprehensively illustrated journals, which accompany this portfolio of work. The journals display both my inspiration and anxieties with the coastal landscape and its correspondence with personal beliefs, identity, upbringing and the inevitable contemplation of mortality.

    The critical overview concludes with the exhibition Influere shown at Oriel y Pare. This extensive portfolio of new works and journals was installed alongside a personally curatcd selection of paintings, drawings, prints, and geological specimens from the National Museum of Wales's collection that have inspired and influenced my development as an artist (see accompanying DVDs and CD Rom portfolio).
    Date of AwardJul 2011
    Original languageEnglish


    • Painters
    • Painting

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