SOME of the paintings in Jonathan Trim’s new exhibition, which opens this weekend, have travelled all over the country to be on display – but they’ve finally come home, in every sense of the word.
The exhibition, Salt in the Air, is a collection of work entirely inspired by the estuary. Displayed on the walls of Simon Fowler’s Old Leigh gallery White Wall Space, overlooking their watery muse, there’s something quite magical about the paintings.
As one of Leigh’s most successful and well-known artists, Jonathan’s work is heavily in demand. However, although he remains a Leigh Art Trail regular it is rare for his work to be on display in his home town otherwise.”
He says: “The art trail is the only time I show the work here, but that’s once a year and it’s the only time people in Leigh get to see the work.
“The work goes out in galleries all over the place, so to have an exhibition about the Thames right on the Thames seems ideal. You can’t get any closer to the Thames.
“It’s a lovely opportunity and I’m really grateful I have got the chance to show the work.”
Jonathan doesn’t exclusively paint the estuary. He’s also captivated by other landscapes including the River Stour in Suffolk, which captured the imagination of another well-known landscape artist – John Constable – and the areas of south west France.
But it’s Leigh and it’s surrounding views that are at the heart of his work.
He explains the paintings are manifestations of his deep love for and relationship with the stretch of coast, where he’s lived all his life.
He says: “As a kid, I spent hours out there messing about. There are a lot of memories embedded in the work.
“I find it endlessly fascinating. It’s a bit of a cliche, but it is constantly changing. It’s magnificent. I’ve been in love with it all my life.
“Even after all these years, it takes my breath away. You feel you just have to paint it to express your feelings. The paintings are about expressions of feelings rather than exact topography.”
Jonathan’s love of painting started at a young age, and he has always been single-minded in his pursuit of his art.
He says: “As far back as I can remember I’ve always drawn and painted.
“When I was at school I just wanted to get to art college. It was the only thing I could imagine doing.”
His passion for art is undented. He can’t imagine a life without painting.
He says: “I am obsessed with painting. I get in the studio every day. If I spent time away from it I get irritable.
“I suppose it is a bit of a cathartic experience. I don’t function as a human being if I’m not painting.
“It’s what makes me a human being. I can’t imagine not being an artist. I can’t imagine looking at the world without making art.”
As well as his evocative estuary renderings, there’s something else that will fascinate visitors to the gallery – a selection of his sketchbooks.
Jonathan says: “I always use sketchbooks. Never photos. I draw in them, write in them and stick things in them. They’re all about bringing back those feelings and those experiences.”
He adds: “All the great landscape artists had something very individual to say.
“Constable was very intimately involved with a very small part of Suffolk and I’m very interested in that relationship with place. For me it’s been the Thames estuary.”
Salt in the Air, by Jonathan Trim White Wall Space Gallery, Leigh Hill, Old Leigh Tomorrow to November 27, Tuesday to Sunday, 11am-4pm 07764 960870