Nearly two centuries after Hiroshige’s influential landscape series Fifty-Three Stations of the Tōkaidō, (1833), Jeremy Gardiner went on his own artistic journey of discovery, connection, and reflection - but along the Southwest Coast Path in England. He named his 2018 study The Twenty Stations of The Dorset Coast, and we are pleased to bring most of these remarkable works together at The Nine British Art this month.
From Lyme Regis in the west to Old Harry Rocks in the east, Dorset’s breathtaking coastal landscapes and geology have always fascinated Gardiner. Repeated visits on foot, on sea and even by air, in all seasons and weathers, underlined for this thoughtful artist that though these landscapes seem to have a rugged permanence, they are always changing - either via the forces of nature or the influence of human activity.
And that sense of transience, energy and, sometimes, stillness is reflected in this series of paintings on bespoke cotton rag paper - thick, textured, and deckle-edged, it mirrors the landscape Gardiner interrogates, where the boundary between sea and land is liminal, never quite certain.
Though some of the famous features of the Dorset coast are recognisable in this series - the arch in Durdle Door II, the unique sweep of the shoreline in Lulworth Cove IV, Gardiner seeks out new angles, textures and points of view which speak powerfully of the personal emotions and memories these remarkable places inspire.
In that sense the dramatic use of the saturated reds of Worbarrow Tout IV or Pinnacle and Haystack IV accentuate the geological and human history of Gardiner’s “stations”, where coastal erosion, military activity and sheer power of the natural world is impossible to ignore. Meanwhile, the pale washes of blue, pink, and gold in Pulpit Rock II lap like the changing tide over the limestone shore. Pulpit Rock itself is present - if distant - but ultimately its depiction is a small, symbolic anchoring of a world we can recognise, in a landscape beyond our comprehension.
Gardiner wants these works to invite the viewer to "reflect on their own relationship with the physical world and the transience of human impact.” This selection at Nine British Art certainly encourages such a deep reaction, revealing a contemporary artist with a singular vision - and aesthetic - for our dramatic coastlines.