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Heart of Wessex at museum
AN EXHIBITION celebrating the heart of Wessex and one of the area’s most famous writers opens today at Dorset County Museum. Landscapes of Thomas Hardy’s Wessex is an exhibition of contemporary works, including charcoal drawings, prints, steel etchings and oil paintings, by Rob Pountney, Dave Gunning and David Inshaw.
They depict the spectacular landscapes and ancient archaeological sites that feature in the novels and poems of Thomas Hardy.
Each artist has selected specific works, which show their varied and eclectic response to the places described in Hardy’s fictionalised ‘Wessex’.
The works focus attention on the physical and atmospheric qualities of the landscape, in much the same way that Hardy used prose to generate melodrama and set the scene in his work.
Museum spokeswoman Rachel Cole said: “By personally selecting a small number of key pieces from their huge bodies of work, these artists give a unique glimpse into their own reactions to their art. They are showing what they consider to be their most revealing and emotional responses to a landscape they have got to know intimately, both through Hardy and through their own experience of it.”
Rob Pountney is a highly accomplished artist who has always been fascinated by Thomas Hardy's work, and this intensified during his study of fine art and later doctoral research work in English literature. The use of dramatic contrasts of light and shade in his work captures the striking visual aspects of the geological and archaeological features of the Wessex landscape, and his interpretation of Hardy’s response to them.
Dave Gunning, awarded Year of the Artist Award in 2000-2001 by the British Arts Council, is an exceptionally fine artist, who has spent more than 25 years studying the prehistoric landscape in the West Country, particularly the ancient monuments within the World Heritage Site of Stonehenge and Avebury.
Gunning’s work goes far further than recording their existence and captures their spiritual and mystical presence, often in highly charged atmospheric environments. Thomas Hardy lived and travelled among the monuments Gunning has captured.
Thomas Hardy has also been a key figure in the work of one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists, David Inshaw. His works are mainly large oil paintings, etchings and drawings.
The exhibition runs at Dorset County Museum in High West Street, Dorchester until June 16. Entry is free.