Blake has pressed the pause button for a moment…

PIPPA BLAKE - QUEST. 27 May - 17 June 2017. Candida Stevens Gallery 12 Northgate Chichester West Sussex PO19 1BA

The first impression as you walk into the gallery is of a vast expanse and a sense of open space. Pippa Blake’s work is tremendously atmospheric and invites you instantly into her world. The landscapes she has captured allow your imagination to conjure up your own stories.

It is immediately apparent that the artwork concerns a journey-an investigation and exploration of the world Blake has travelled in. There are many paintings of the rural countryside, but each allows you to look deeper into the work and question what lies beyond the horizon and where do those roads lead?

As you wander through the room, you are transported by more built- up landscapes, which capture the bustle and atmosphere of the city and the people who live there. Each piece of artwork merges into another and you can be suspended and aware at the same time of your place in the world and your own path taken in it, before moving on to the next part of the journey.

The carefully placed brush stokes evoke a sense of mystery, intriguing the spectator to find out more. They appear almost fragmented and scattered, as if describing a memory or past experience. This lends the paintings a sense of vulnerability, as if the real truth were being somehow withheld. Each painting allows the viewer a glimpse into the journey that Blake has taken; not just by the imagery depicted in each painting, but more the markings that evoke past places and memories and allow us to connect and relate to own stories and analogies.

Each line and mark has a direction and purpose. Some are bold; others more sketch-like. Yet the overlapping, layering and variety of strokes create interesting textures which beg to be touched. The paint does not always sit flat on the canvas, which adds even more depth and detail to the work.

Initially the larger paintings can be viewed from a distance, taking in the whole scene at a glance.  Next we move our gaze to follow the horizon, absorbing the mood and ambience created. However, it is only when you start to move closer that you feel real connection and association with the piece. At that point the artwork begins to surround and encompass you; actually transporting you to that place. You begin to notice the bright colours and their precision; how each marking has a specific direction that carries your gaze across the whole painting, facilitating a complete sense of relaxation.

There is something very peaceful about the way beams of light creep out from the darkness. They illuminate the subject, evoking a sense of curiosity about the environment. They suggest a placid, calm setting, which allows the viewer to reflect in the stillness.  Blake has captured a moment in time and pressed the pause button for a moment. This allows the spectator to surmise the story behind the hints and suggestions portrayed by the vivid colours and sparks of light. Whilst pausing, Pippa Blake has provided us an opportunity to reflect and unwind and connect with our own thoughts and memories.

This has also ignited a desire to see some of the beautiful imagery that Blake has captured for myself - to start my own journey of investigation and exploration. As I left the gallery I felt very inspired to start that journey and begin my own travel adventure; to view the beauty of the world portrayed by Blake, at first hand.

Review by textile artist Mary Eynon