ANOTHER VIEW OF WINDOWS
For several years now I have admired the work of one of our local artists, Paul Stangroom. Although Paul has travelled widely he has made his home in his native North-East and his paintings of the wild Northumbrian hills really capture the feel of the landscape in this region.
Wide-open spaces, big skies and isolation are some of the first impressions one gets when walking in rugged country between the Scottish Borders and County Durham and Paul's work conveys this superbly. And yet, the pictures are incredibly detailed. The distance might hold a stand of trees perched on top of a hill whilst a rocky stream disappears intriguingly around the next slope but right in front of you are individual blades of tough upland grass. The landscape is dotted with farmhouses, some once-grand buildings now lie in ruins slowly falling back into the hillside whilst others cling on, providing shelter for the current generation of hill farmers.
After launching Blackthorn Timber Windows I was delighted to come across a series of Paul's paintings called The Windows Collection. These are paintings of the view from within some of these deserted farm buildings. Focussing on the crumbling interiors, the windows at the centre of each picture hold a tantalising view of the fields and hills outside.
Sash windows lie open with panes of glass missing but still showing their original beauty and fine detail in the decorative sash horns. A casement window in a deep reveal would have been a great place for a child to sit and watch the world outside.
And although some might find a sense of melancholy in these pictures, I find them wonderfully evocative of a time gone by and of a landscape slowly reclaiming its own ground.
Paul Stangroom's work is highly regarded nationally and in 2009 he won the Royal Watercolour Society prize for Best Painting inthe 21st Century Watercolour exhibition at the Bankside Gallery in London. You can see (and buy) his paintings via the website www.paulstangroom.co.uk.