An innate sense of place

I live in the city of Bath, in the South West of England. It is a very beautiful place, and I love it for many, many reasons. I love the tall Georgian buildings that reveal their cavernous interiors through large, frame-like windows. I love the history of the place, that seems to seep out of the honey-coloured stone. I love the proud yet ghostly Victorian signage that can still be seen on flaking mural stonework in the early morning or late evening sun. Above all though, I am in love with the light of the place. The city is a chameleon that glows with many different hues according to time of day, seasons and weather. On crisp, clear Winter days the flowing streets shine like polished marble, shot through with vermilion trees and parkland. Of a Summer’s evening at sundown, the stone radiates the warmth of the sun, and glows with deep ochre hues. Whatever the conditions, the city resonates and is vibrant with light. It is a hard thing to do justice to with description.

Today, I witnessed something remarkable. The creations of an artist who has captured not only the light of Bath, but also precisely  how that light makes the observer feel when being in it. The effect was at once intensely familiar but also ethereal. Eerie, almost, that someone could capture the essence of a place so entirely. As the title suggests, the artist Peter Brown has recreated an innate sense of place, and I felt deeply privileged to have experienced his perceptions as an observer. I went to his exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery in the city. What I found there were wonderful vignettes of Bath city life. Everything from grand sweeping vistas of Georgian streets, to bustling street corners crammed with lampposts and street signs. They were all wonderful.

Of them all however, I was riveted by one canvas in particular. An imposing  scene of a rain-swept Bath street. It was so very well done that I could almost smell the rain. The shine of the rainfall on the stone was masterful, and I felt as if I knew the very stone flag that he had stood on to render the scene. It was a remarkable experience. Sensuous and sensual. Yet it was the light that transfixed me. The mottled hues of Bath stone as it becomes saturated, and the glistening of rippling raindrops. I have walked down that street many, many times, and in exactly that weather. I wanted to yell THIS IS BATH at the top of my voice, and judging by the shining eyes and grins of other gallery-goers, I feel I was not alone.

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Walking through the city afterwards, I felt as if I was seeing the place through Peter Brown’s eyes. My glances and glimpses seemed to form portraits and landscapes, and I even took a photograph purely because it reminded me of one of the paintings that I had just seen. My senses feel reawakened to the wonder that is the place in which I live, and I am truly thankful to Mr Brown for that.  So it is with utter sincerity that I say to anybody reading this blog that they should visit the Peter Brown exhibition. It is exhibiting until the 19th of February. Do not miss it!

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Copyright Tom Tide 2017

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