Like many of us, my early exposure to the works of Constable were reproductions en mass on placemats - not particularly inspiring. His work has often divided opinion and been misunderstood though made familiar by these reproductions and I suspect many of us might have been put off taking a deeper look at his art because of this commerciality.
More recently, Constable came back into my life by chance via my work with windmills as his father ran a mill at Flatford. Because I believe that studying the work of other artist’s (in any art form) can take us somewhere we don’t even know we want to go to and can inspire us with new perspectives, I let the research lead the way!
Having already explored and researched ’Constable Country’ near his father's mill in Suffolk, I felt compelled this year to discover the other places Constable had painted, lived and frequently visited. This took me to Hampstead Heath with an open mind and open eyes to discover what links the artist of then to the artist of now i.e. me!
Hampstead Heath is enjoyed by many visitors but is no longer the grazing land way above the city that it was in Constable’s day. Greater London has now surrounded this green oasis yet tranquillity can still be found there.
What struck me on the hills looking out to the same spots Constable once surveyed, was not the structures below but the clouds above and how they contain the waters of time. The vapours from the planes which travel form time zone to time zone, across latitude and longitudes. Navigating the seas of the sky.
In the graveyard of the 300-year-old Church of St John in Hampstead itself, I discovered Constable’s grave underneath the canopy of an old tree. This peaceful spot encouraged a longer than scheduled visit and an unexpected encounter with the grave of John Harrison. Unknown to me previously, Harrison’s genius ‘time machine’ (marine chronometers and many others) creations have inspired me to think differently again about time and how art can give us glimpses of times now passed and enable us to find the things that connect us, the things that we experience regardless of time. I am excited at the prospect of the new works I am creating as a result of this research, art which will bring together the works of 3 artists of very different output forms…Constable, Harrison and Burke!