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The Enchanted Eye

Private View Saturday 4th October 2008 noon - 5.00pm
Wine served - All Works for Sale
Exibition Finishes Sunday 26th October 2008

Where enquiries of prices are made on the gallery, the work is subject to availability and the price to change.

“The Swarm” mixed medium 50.5 x 61cm


A Far Away Place
Oil on board
25 x 35 £595


“Peninsulars of thought and feeling out into the larger world” (Emily Dickinson)

I first encountered Diana Howard’s paintings in the early 1970s, their unique fusion of the real and observed with the imaginative and poetic – a woman in exotic medieval costume taking a snake for a walk by night in a moonlit topiary garden above all – striking an immediate chord of intense, inward reflection. Taken together with the guilelessness and innocence with which her vision was consistently realised, she was making work quite unlike that of any other artist I knew. Nearly 40 years on, in the work she has produced for this show, all of those qualities would still seem to hold true absolutely, the only difference now being that, after some four decades of living surrounded by the most remote (and beautiful) of Suffolk gardens and landscapes, what she paints and just how she paints it have changed significantly.

This is, I feel, particularly apparent in the much greater directness of approach to her subject matter and also in the lightening and intensifying of the palette she has now started to use. So, gone for the most part, are any mystical medieval or literary references, to be replaced by those moments of powerful and magical experience she finds within her rich daily life – the birds in the garden that tap at the window of whatever room in the house she happens to be in, the bees from the hives there swarming in a thunderstorm, the boxing hares that move around her as she walks in the fields and common that surround the house.

There would seem still to be occasional, and nicely surprising, breakouts from this, for example The Tower, a charged, mysterious work that harks back somewhat to that earlier, medieval strand in her subject matter. But, like all the works in this show, it now makes use of a very different tonal and colour range and a much looser way of working too, one that owes a good deal to working much more directly from nature than she ever did in the past, as a significant group of works in this show make clear. In these generally smaller pieces we see Diana Howard paying close and sensitive attention to the observed world around her and, painted with the same lyrical affection she brings to the more composed pieces, she imbues them with a quite unmistakeable spirit of place.

Writing of Diana’s work some 25 years ago the artist Graham Arnold observed how it invested “the invisible with the logic of the visible”. Nothing has changed in these beautiful paintings here, humming with expectancy, possessed of a sense of immanence and quietude that remains very particularly her own. They are works which will never stop opening your eyes to the visual and sensual beauty of the world.

Nicholas Usherwood
Features Editor, Galleries Magazine, July 2008

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