Edges & Elements: Wendy Smith and Steve Betts

Exhibition ran from 8 Aug 2023 – 20 Aug 2023
Open evening: 11 Aug, 6 - 8pm Meet the Artist: Sunday 13th August, 2 to 4pm

Wendy Smith and Steve Betts paintings respond to edges and margins, where the land meets the sea. Through narrative, storytelling and exploring Edgeland territory.

Wendy Smith finds inspiration exploring places that are on the edge of changing environments. The experience is both psychological and emotive, referring to the sense of place, environmental happenings and the experience of immersion in the landscape. The exploration includes topographical elements, the textural surface, materiality and weathering combined with an imagined engagement with a place, exceeding a purely visual experience.
Wendy Smith has a curiosity with ‘edgeland’ areas or the overlap where natural wild spaces, untouched by man, meet the more contained, managed and planned farm areas. Also, edges where land and sea or rivers meet, the transitional and liminal spaces created between rural and urban areas. These spaces often neglected or overlooked become areas of fascination. Working with the materials in the landscape, pigments, raw canvas, mud and vegetation, submerging canvases in rivers, tidal and non tidal, streams, ponds and compost heaps to absorb and experience the weathering, responding to the essence, atmosphere and materiality of that place.
The work is process led working on primed and unprimed canvas. The environments explored are pre-selected and the immersion aspect reflects the place and experience of physically connecting with the land. Photography is also key to her practice being more conceptual with collecting information of place, spatial considerations, perceptions and reflective sentiments, contrasting with the richly textured, organic and gestural surfaces of the paintings. Wendy’s studio is based at Raft Studios, St Leonards on Sea.

Steve Bett’s paintings work with edges and margins where land and sea meet. He explores the idea of seascapes through narrative, storytelling and the exploration of adversity. Lifeboats and stories of saving souls in perilous conditions, rowing out, pulling lifeboats, man’s adversity and the struggle of preservation against the elements. He explores the ebb and flow, immersion, wild landscapes and the shifting of time and tides through historical research and factual based story telling.
Steve Bett’s style is representational, realistic, tonal with black, white and muted colouration working mainly in oils and mixed media on primed and unprimed canvas. Inspirations include narratives based on real stories, research and documentation of lifeboats and ships at sea. Steve’s experience of currently living on a historic Dutch sailing barge is also a key influence on his artwork. His painting runs alongside his tattoo business and he has a working arts studio above the tattoo shop in Maidstone.


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