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Remarkable Selection of Works from David Heathcote's Artistic and Academic Career at GV Art Gallery
David Heathcote, Algerian Journey, 2006, Oil on board, 20 x 27cm, Photo by Peter Kidd, Image courtesy GV Art.

LONDON.- Beyond Horizons is a new solo show by David Heathcote, hosted by GV Art Gallery, London. The exhibition brings together a remarkable selection of works from an artistic and academic career which has spanned some 60 years. Beyond Horizons includes landscape paintings, sculptures and drawings. An illustrated catalogue, containing an interview with the artist and an essay by Prof. David Reason, accompanies the exhibition. Selected works exhibited are also available as limited edition reproductions.

David Heathcote has produced a great range of work — of media, form, style, and of ambition and reach. His landscape drawings breathe an air of contemplative calm, and his sculptures (carved or modelled) have the presence of a profound inwardness. His painting challenges categorisation, as he often merges representational elements within abstract painting.

Heathcote was born in London in 1931. A couple of years later, the family moved to Kent, first to Whitstable, then to a small rural village near Dargate. The young boy’s recollection of the Battle of Britain overhead became the inspiration for a double page piece in his later work, Deliberate Holiday. Despite the war, Heathcote’s childhood enjoyment of the tranquillity of the Kentish countryside led him to value such pastoral landscapes as unfailing sources of renewal. After attending Canterbury School of Art, he studied at London's Slade School of Art. As a young artist, Cubism had helped him to find his bearings, and resonates in his later sculptures. As Heathcote comments, 'Its architectural structure affected me at a time when I was very uncertain, and it appeared to give me a really clear path for the future.'

National Service in the RAF was followed by a move to Africa in 1959 to teach, first in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and then in Nigeria. He returned to Kent in the late 70s, and in the early 90s he established Sculpture at what is now Canterbury Christ Church University. Inevitably, his experiences in Africa have affected Heathcote's sensibility and forms of expression; the intensity of his African landscape memories has encouraged the use of vivid colour, structural clarity, and dynamic motif, mark making, gesture and texture. However, his familiarity with Nigerian indigenous cultures, and his particular study of Hausa embroidery, has not led to any masquerade of exotic otherness, but has been digested and assimilated to advance his own distinctive work.

Beyond Horizons offers an insight into the history of Heathcote's gradual recognition of the importance of landscape in his life, and its potential for nourishing his painter's journey of self-discovery. His early, dutiful commitment had rated the human figure as the most important subject for a serious painter. However, this commitment slowly weakened as the figure began migrating from his paintings to an alternative position in stimulating his late development as a sculptor. At the same time, landscape became progressively more important, and today this topic forms Heathcote's overriding preoccupation as a painter.

His most recent work conjures a newfound sense of recollection, of renewal and of something redeemed. In the case of the painting Algerian Journey, as with all Heathcote's paintings (but not his drawings), what appears to be a reference to landscape in the image relates more directly to memories of place, flushed with emotions. In such luminous images, we could be hesitating on the threshold of a world in which each revealed horizon glows with the disclosure that it already contains its own ‘beyond.’

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