Peter Kent’s solo exhibition at Mandell’s Gallery 11th May – 1st June 2019 Join us for the private view on Saturday 18th May 12pm – 4pm.
You wait for a rewarding exhibition from Peter Kent for a number of years and then something like four turn up at the same time, because this present show celebrates at least four distinct focuses of his output, firstly there are examples of images from over 20 years ago of fabulous flying machines and eager sailing ships, left behind from abandoned book projects, reflecting his work as illustrator of educative books for children, then there are the original drawings for the winsomely inventive ‘horrible histories’ take on historical Norfolk landmarks – The Fatal Gates of Norwich and The Great Gates of Norfolk – and also for a highly creative architectural alphabet, all this before considering the range of his current work; so this exhibition can be seen, not so much as a retrospective as a ’circumspective‘. We encounter devoted representations of the rural realities of the South Norfolk countryside and of the disappearing coastline, battered by climatic assault, stretching from Happisburgh to Southwold; rarely are these tightly specified locations but more often compilations of generic and recognisable detail. Inhabitants are infrequently depicted but anthropological evidence from their discarded objects and beachside habitations is there aplenty. There is a new, fresh luminosity in these watercolours where his familiar Rotring pen line has been replaced by delicate pencil drawing. Any detailed itinerary through rural lanes reveals the seductive territory of ’yards’, with their own mysterious spaces and content, so it is unsurprising that ’the farmyard’, the reclamation yard’ and ’the auction yard’ should earn a fond place in this collection.
The English tradition of watercolour painting has formerly embraced the Romantic and dramatic presence of Cotman’s ‘The Dismasted Brig’ and Constable’s ‘Old Sarum’, and there remains full scope for Kent’s reflections on current scenarios to continue those themes.
Robert Radford, 2019.