It’s possible to travel a long way from Coventry – and still find a familiar image on show.
On a short break in Pembrokeshire I discovered a fantastic exhibition of Graham Sutherland landscapes and other works in the Oriely Y Parc Landscape Gallery, a lovely light and airy space in a well-designed building which also houses the information centre in St Davids.
This seems to be the year to see Graham Sutherland, following the exhibition curated by George Shaw at Modern Art Oxford. That focused heavily on Sutherland’s Pembrokeshire landscapes, and some of them feature here too – along with a map suggesting places to visit inspired by the works! The Coventry connection was a practice image for the crucifixion for the Coventry Cathedral tapestry.
The pieces on show were left by Sutherland to Wales, and were homed at Picton Castle and are now in the National Museum Wales’s guardianship. They include some early nature-influenced etchings in the style of Samuel Palmer, and Pembrokeshire paintings from the 1930s, featuring birds and landscapes.
I find his wartime paintings of lost buildings very effective, and these include a Swansea Masonic Hall in ruins, and a devastated Welsh farmhouse. In the farmhouse painting traditional structures are still visible against a yellow sky as vicious flames destroy the roof.
I hadn’t seen paintings from an adventure overseas before, where palm fronds and banyan leaves still look like the twisted forms influencing his nature paintings in Britain, and there’s also a display case of other Sutherland-designed items including a teaset and carpet.
Later paintings from the 1970s are larger and more abstract, with more of the pointy and twisted forms Sutherland had been interested in. He was obviously fascinated with birds or their actions, and there’s more than one great work featuring a heron in flight.
The exhibition is on until July 1 and definitely worth a visit from enjoying the sun – or dodging the rain – if you’re in Pembrokeshire.