We are delighted to present a guided walkthrough of our latest exhibition at the Goldmark Framer’s Gallery, featuring new work by Miranda Brookes, including an interview with the artist.
For over 40 years Miranda Brookes has been exhibiting in Britain and internationally, from the US to Japan, and as a member of the 62 Group of Textile Artists. After teaching art more generally, from her interest in the needs of young people with multi-sensory impairment she has pursued a meaningful career as both specialist teacher and academic in the field, in local schools and universities including De Montfort, Birmingham, Northampton and Nottingham. Only now, in retirement, has she been able to return to the sole pursuit of her own work, exploring in watercolour themes first touched upon in her textile art.
This return has personal resonance. Her grandfather, George Quarmby, an art education HMI, was a painter of landscapes in oils and recorded WWII damage to St Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey. Her mother Eve, also a painter, used her maiden name, Quarmby; her very last exhibition was at the Goldmark Gallery in 2010. Many years ago, Eve gave her daughter a discerningly selected box of watercolours. They remained in pristine condition, unopened until retirement, when Miranda took up the medium with committed enthusiasm. Actually using the colours from this jewel-like box continues as a precious, familial stimulus for her work.
Inspiration and subject matter in her current work reflect the British landscape tradition, especially the watercolour vistas of Turner, Cotman and Constable, and of contemporaries Jenny Grevatte, Kurt Jackson, Barbara Rae and Stephanie Tuckwell. Her local Charnwood, as well as Rutland and the Dorset coast, have proved to be significant sources too, reflecting deeper concerns for our natural environment.
Viewers have commented on the ‘ethereal’ and ‘uncanny’ experience of seeing Miranda’s paintings. She applies her medium in precise and sensitive ways, employing a complex technical range long developed by British watercolourists. The quality of the brush type to lay a wash or disturb a previously laid one, when either (or both) are wet or dry, illustrates the subtlety of the medium. Paint can be added by dabbing and dragging, pushing or pulling, or even scratching using the heel of the brush and, depending on the texture of the paper, with wildly different results. As the reflective property of paper is fundamental to our experience of watercolour, reserving areas where no paint is applied at all is also central to their effect.
The works in this exhibition merit very close inspection. In two instances, Meeting at the Water’s Edge, and Meeting at The Long View, groups of tiny, Turneresque figures are gathered. These are exceptions to the otherwise ‘deserted’ land and seascapes, though there are ‘signs’ of human presence everywhere: hedges, stonewalls, fences, railings, paths, maintained fields, orchards and reservoir perimeters, or the groynes of coastal scenes.
Against a benign focus of flora, fauna and reflective waters, these ‘signs’ remind us always of manmade intervention: of both environmental irresponsibility, and of our efforts to cooperate with the world in which we find ourselves.