The notion of 'place' is at the heart of Norman Ackroyd's art. This feeling is tied not only to the aesthetic environment but also to the histories and pasts linked to it. As one of the country's most venerated living artists, Norman is known and admired for his intimate knowledge and understanding of the landscapes he depicts. Anyone who has enjoyed the pleasure of spending any time with Norman will have their own stories about being enthralled by his enthusiasm and delight in the histories of the places he draws, paints and etches. Usually over a glass of wine, or a plate of food from one of his favourite local restaurants Norman will recount his own stories of exploration and sometimes treacherous journeys to these far-flung landscapes around the British Isles. Before long you will feel that you are experiencing the dappled sunlight through the trees at Burnham Beeches, hearing the crashing waves at St. Kilda whilst feeling the sea-spray on your face and the choppy seas which must be navigated to reach the perfect view so that Norman might pause for a few minutes and capture the essence of these scenes with his watercolours in the sketchbooks he always carries in the deep pockets of his coat.
One of his greatest pleasures, Norman says, is to revisit many of the parts of the British Isles which he has travelled to and documented before, and to recapture the places in a new body of work. Despite the fact that the landscape itself always stays stubbornly the same; the change of the light, alternative weather conditions or a slightly different viewpoint will make the world of difference to a landscape. This provides Norman with a wealth of material to work from as well as giving him great pleasure. And we're sure that this will make a fascinating exhibition this September.
Norman first visited Blacksod in County Mayo, Ireland in 2000 and created one of our favourite box-sets of etchings around it. He plans to return to Blacksod again this summer to create a new set of watercolours and etchings. We'll be hanging his new work alongside the works from 2000 at the exhibition on Bermondsey Street, just around the corner from Norman's etching studio.
Also in the exhibition will be a collection of new works by Norman which he has been working on for the past two years - this selection of works are etchings from some of Norman's favourite and most familiar places which he's returned to and made artworks of many times. Alongside the new etchings for these works he has written a short history or story of the landscape. Some of these pieces of writing are factual, some are anecdotal, and some are personal stories about Norman's own visit to the area. Each etching along with the piece of writing brings the landscape to life in a new, intimate way, allowing us to quite literally Read the Landscape as if through the eyes of Norman Ackroyd.