Artist Chris Rigby’s new exhibition 30 Days of Light opens in Da Gadderie at Shetland Museum this weekend.
Last year Rigby was based for a month at the Booth Arts Studio in Scalloway but spent much of his time in Shetland exploring his new terrain. All the watercolours in this exhibition were produced during his stay while the oil paintings were done later in his studio back in Lancashire.
He said: “When on trips I get out as much as possible, painting like a nutter in situ. That means getting out in all weathers working till conditions get the better of me or I’m just exhausted. In Shetland the combination of rain and the damp, cool air was the biggest challenge greatly increasing the drying time of the paint.”
He travelled extensively round the Mainland but in particular Muckle Roe, making several overnight trips and cycling over the track to the far side of the isle to paint among the high red cliffs.
Rigby said it was vital to be working outside often in dramatic landscapes such as the Cumbrian Fells, Tresco, North Uist and Shetland. His working method developed over the years and now most of his studio work is derived from these numerous expeditions.
He found that too much time spent in the studio dulled down and stifled his visual language. Getting out there helped the system flow freely and enabled him to get some of the expressive quality he sought. In turn, the studio environment alloweds for a different kind of experimental development and a more considered approach.
He said: “I grew up with moors above our village. My first real fell walk, up Skiddaw, gave me a taste for remote locations. It is where I find myself. My feelings about the wilder places relate to feelings of freedom; it is a world that isn’t trying to sell me something or steal my imagination. It is what it is. It is very much the real world to me.”
Museum exhibitions officer John Hunter said: “This is a must go to show – 30 Days of Light captures a sense of place. Chris shows a great range of skills and sensitivity in depicting the atmosphere of many of these remote parts of Shetland. With colour, light and composition perfectly balanced, his combination of control and free expressive work make for paintings full of character that will engage any visitor to Da Gadderie.”
The exhibition runs until 3rd August.