What kind of art-lover are you? Are you realist or non-objective? Feeling a big figurative, or abstract?, writes Caitlin Moriarty-Osborne. The good news is at this exhibition you don’t have to choose. Peter Watson’s current show in the Gallery at Woodend features vibrant terrains, industrial landscapes, sporting achievements, and one very special Yorkshire celebrity. The versatility of colour, style and subject matter on show is impressive. Watson’s paintings include vibrant depictions of the Yorkshire Wolds, pictures of Yorkshire pits and memorable sporting events.
Watson attended both the Hull and Liverpool colleges of art and now resides in Scarborough. Watson’s work is inspired by both his surroundings and his passion for sport. His industrial paintings were influenced by his wife’s home in Wentworth near Rotherham, and his later work has drawn inspiration from the Wolds.
The show at Woodend is really three separate exhibitions. Firstly Watson’s new collection ‘Fields of view – a different look at the Wolds’ focuses on the juxtaposition of intensive farming methods and natural terrain. His oil on canvas paintings bring landscapes to life through his use of textures, colours and shapes. Particularly striking is ‘Rape and Poppies’, in which vivid colours depict an almost abstract landscape. Watson’s ability to create geometric patterns out of rural scenery is exemplified beautifully in ‘Winter Wheat’. His patterns and use of light bear striking resemblance to the work of David Hockney, and it is surprising that the pair never crossed paths during the six- year period they would both have frequented the Wolds.
The other parts of the exhibition stay true to a logic of perspective and show his roots as a figurative painter. The second element shows paintings from the 1970s when Watson preserved the sights of the doomed Yorkshire pits by capturing Yorkshire’s industrial heritage in fourteen paintings for the National Coal Board. On the closure of the pits he assumed the paintings would have been discarded, but luckily for us was reunited with them more than 30 years later, after they were passed on to the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield.
Watson’s collection on sport is perhaps his most fun. The portraits depict local sports events like the 2004 Scarborough Vs Chelsea FA cup match. The captions have plenty of amusing anecdotes – the painting of the hunt for example proved particularly difficult as his subjects insisted on appearing in order of importance.
In the midst of the abstract landscapes and derelict pits comes the real highlight – a gorgeous almost life-size portrait of 1967’s Best Fresian Bull in Yorkshire.
Peter Watson’s exhibition has something for everyone, but for me the bull wins every time.
Fields of View runs at Woodend Gallery until 26 July