Diary of a Year and Other Thoughts


After twenty five years living at North Stack, Holyhead Mountain, I reluctantly moved inland to a cottage one thousand feet above Llandderfel, Bala. The contrast of the sea and that special silvery light, to the ‘greenness’ of a rural environment has been a challenge for me, both technically and emotionally. Someone said to me that my work would change, and it certainly was a struggle initially to produce anything that I felt worth framing! There was bound to be a period of confusion before  a rhythm and fluidity could be achieved and maybe this development is reflected in the paintings shown in this exhibition. However much we might wish to create a world of our own making, we are influenced by our environment.

One of the main changes has been to paint more in the studio and less outside. Indeed, it now feels less relevant to set up and directly paint a subject on the spot, even though it is so wonderful to be out and alone with nature. The change had already begun some time ago when I returned to places I had painted in France to find how ‘ordinary’ reality appeared in relation to the idea it had sparked off and then applied to canvas.

Technically, colour is my main concern – to pass beyond that everyday reality in to a luminous world. But no painting works unless the composition is balanced and in this respect nothing has changed except that my thoughts on this process takes far longer; hence the desire to paint away from the subject. There is also an introduction of more texture and a tendency to home in on detail, to find a symbolic world in the minutiae of nature – perhaps there is a link with surrealism here.

So, ‘gathering’ rather than ‘taking’ is the main change – gathering information that holds the potential for expressing an idea through the sifting and transformation that takes place within the crucible of the studio.

Philippa Jacobs