Lesley Featherstone

Whether landscape based figurative or abstract, painting for me is about making sense of the world. Making a painting may start with a literal description of form, but is gradually overlaid with memories and emotions. A continual reworking of subject, content and form becomes an attempt to make sense of myself and the world and becomes a metaphorical representation of that process. The processes, mediums and methods used in making the work become part of the enquiry and also act as metaphor. For instance: rubbing and crossing out; drafting and redrawing; using collage to cover over marks or physically build up surfaces and accentuate layers; over painting and glazing. These processes become a language which can be read and reproduced.

I have been working as an artist for 25 years or so, but periods of that have been as a cultural developer in the field of socially engaged art, rather than as a maker. I have a practise based M.A. Art in Context, from the University of Sunderland and have worked as Director of Arts Development Agencies in the North East and the South West. I joined Areté Visual Arts in 2014 as a means to engage with other artists and develop new opportunities.


The Blue Remembered Hills landscape series began with a fascination for the distant hills framing the Somerset Levels. The hills seemed to creep in everywhere, and have grown to become almost a symbol for a stage in life where I am re-engaging with making art and attempting to understand and assimilate the distant vistas of my experience and move forward creatively. They seem also to reflect some lines within the A.E. Houseman poem, The Shropshire Lad:

Into my heart an air that kills
from that far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires what forms are those?

That is the land of lost content,
I see its shining plain
The happy highways where I went
and cannot come again.


These drawings and collages use the shape of the body to express emotional states, and are also part of a process of self understanding and realisation. They provide a way to explore and question strong emotional responses to situations, to work through and understand a current issue, to assist in the making of choices. They reflect personal but also universal emotions and positions in response to the range of global environmental and social issues we face. For example the thinking behind 'Falling, Flying, Tumbling in turmoil' is about the sense of being overwhelmed, feeling out of control in the face of complex global issues and life in general. I suppose a sort of Icarus figure, aiming high but unable to grasp the whole of the bigger picture and without all the skills and knowledge to succeed. And as in the Pieter Bruegel painting, "Landscape with the Fall of Icarus", the world goes on regardless. In 'Floating' the feeling is more of giving up or a sense of stasis, of allowing the tides and currents to decide the direction to take, to go with the flow.


This series deals visually with elements of focus and surface, layers of depth, shadow and reflection, waves and flow. Through association they also deal with change and transformation, are reflective and meditative.