Friday, 6 March 2009

The beginning and the end

Two of the last paintings to be completed were the Hemlock Stone and Mam Tor, the largest paintings in the series, reflecting their importance as the designated extremities of the Portway.

Described in Henry Sutton's wonderfully Victorian poem, there is a legendary link between Castleton near Mam Tor and the Hemlock Stone:

'............What convulsion made
Thy red neck rear itself so haughtily
Above these fields? What tempest sculptured thee?
What demon hurled thee here, a lonely rock?'

Folklore tells that the Hemlock Stone was ripped and hurled from the mouth of Peak Cavern, Castleton, by the devil: an attractively neat tale to encompass the Portway.

Portway Review

Painters undertake journeys, as surely as the traders of old who ventured along the Derbyshire Portway; galvanic force behind Hambleton’s recent works. In facility and established genre her journey may well be approaching the sunny uplands; a rewarding stage of achievement and experience.

Synthesis of landscape, upon and by the Portway, is the artist’s preoccupation. The use of the large brush, and painting from the shoulder, assist that facility which nevertheless must retain an edge of feeling against the lull of fluency. Dark Lane has something of that edginess, as does the brittle graphicacy of the splendid pencil and crayon study Cratcliff.

Hambleton is at her most persuasive in transposition; that curious mental absorption of elements of perceived phenomena that are processed and rendered through a transforming pictorial language to become something else. Such is Dale Hermitage. A delightful work of glancing reference, but not craven before the subject.

There are hints of probable influences ; Derain, Hitchens, Paul Nash? But nowhere is this overt. Hambleton is simply of her time; open to the profligate cascades of images of art that technical replication now provides. Her on-the-spot confrontation of place and its uniqueness is key to ensuring varied responses and to each painting being itself a singular object.

John Fineran
March 2009