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New abstract paintings by Terry Setch on view at Flowers Gallery in London
Terry Setch, Storm over Weston 2012. Encaustic wax and pigment on board, 27 x 43 cm©Terry Setch, courtesy Flowers London.

LONDON.- Originally from London, Setch relocated to Penarth, a suburb of Cardiff on the Severn Estuary, in 1964. His new surroundings fuelled the evolution of his work.

New abstract paintings are fed with beach detritus, creating a fusion between synthetic and natural materials. Daily trips to Penarth beach collecting flotsam and jetsam rejected by the estuary’s tide are then combined with more traditional media such as oil paint, coloured wax or naturally sourced kaolin.

I have been using the pollution of the local beach, particularly the plastic detritus, as my major subject since the mid-1970s, long before concern about the damage caused by the ubiquitous, non-biodegradable plastic became widespread in this country.

I concentrate on a two-mile stretch of the local beach, between Penarth and Lavernock Point. I have regarded that area, the beach, cliffs and the margin with the waters of the Severn Estuary, as my place. I have observed it, worked in it and thought about it almost daily since I settled in Penarth in 1969. It has become for me the source and inspiration for ideas about the genre of landscape painting and living within an environment. It has been the catalyst for ideas about painting as an activity, about finding forms of visual expression of the experience of powerful natural phenomena and about how images assume an identity.

The paintings engage with the sensation of being in a sharp terrain of ancient geology. Clambering over rocks, becoming so familiar with the surroundings, I can sense from places where water breaks or in the shifts and ridges between land and island, how this beach has evolved and persisted over millions of years.

At the same time I am responding to how another landscape painter saw this two mile view. I perceive continuity between place, painting and the wider possibilities of painting. In 1897 the Impressionist Alfred Sisley made several paintings on the cliff edge at Penarth, looking towards Lavernock Point. At much the same time the inventor Guglielmo Marconi sent the first telegraph messages across water between the Point and the island of Flat Holm. The echoes of both achievements, it could be said, have objectified this place; they were harbingers of the modern era. --Terry Setch 2011

Setch’s blend of unorthodox media begins to resemble the very fabric of Penarth’s coastline. Humanity’s rejectamenta and the natural environment are bonded by continuous weathering and the estuary’s relentless tide. Ripped fragments of bottles, bags, bits of Styrofoam, sections of sailcloth and tarpaulin are embedded into the canvas. Sheets of reclaimed polythene are warped over the works surface and again worked over with paint.

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