Way back in

by Helen Barker

Half term is here and the consuming ritual of school has ceased for a week. After a beautiful weekend away in the Peaks I am re-kindled with that wondrous mix of nature, architecture and light – particular only to Yorkshire.

2015-02-14 11.39.38And I remember thinking, is there a way back in?

Haven’t painted for months. Haven’t written, spoken or allowed myself to think about painting. Is there a way back in?

I keep coming back to certain images on my phone, camera and in my mind. Images of long, tall trees and misty hills hiding stone buildings and broken structures. Sheds, walls, canals and hotels. Last night I put Twin Peaks on and reveled in the opening title sequence, an epic homage to the grandeur of colour, nostalgia and nature. Type in green neon font and water cascading down rock faces. Driving through the Peaks we passed purple carpets and dense patches of wood. In my mind wild flamingos run free through the trees and Capuchin monkeys bang rocks against the ground outside glass houses. These are the images I long to paint.

This morning I woke with a material on my mind: acrylic. Bright, clean, layered. Geometric, graphic, obtuse. Recent sketches and commissions for friends have all been painted in gouache, flat against the surface of the paper. They comfortably dwell in the linear representation of form through blocks of man made colour. It’s an awkward contradiction – an artificial surface and a fascination with natural spaces. But, somehow, I think it could work. Is this a way back in?