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The Anne Brontë Exhibition

Commissioned for the exhibition at South Square commemorating Anne's bicentenary. Four artists and two schools produced contemporary responses to Anne's life and work. Below are the pieces of work that I produced.

Something is always far away

Emulsion on board

 ‘The distant prospects were Anne’s delight, and when I look round she is in the blue tints, the pale mists, the waves and shadows of the horizon.’ Charlotte Brontë on Anne

I loved this about Anne, that she saw something in distance. Obsessed with wide skies, of sunrises and sunsets and the horizon. I started thinking about distance as longing, as freedom and not being boxed in. To see wide open space. Living in a valley in West Yorkshire myself, this is something I’ve been musing on for the last few years, becoming mesmerised with where the lines of the hills meet the sky, the hazy blues of the faraway and the feeling of emerging from a valley into the open skies of moorland.

It made me think of an essay - The Blue of Distance - from Rebecca Solnit’s ‘a Field Guide to Getting Lost’. Solnit talks of the blue of distance, the visual effect of the hills becoming bluer the further away they are and artists using shades of blue to depict distance. She also talks of discovering the melancholy of loss and finding beauty and solace in the faraway and I think this could have been part of the way Anne saw the world.

Anne certainly had her share of tragedy to deal with, and also had plans for the future, as she heartbreakingly wrote in her last letter to friend Ellen Nussey; ‘I long to do some good in the world before I leave it. I have many schemes in my head...I should not like them to come to nothing, and myself to have lived so little purpose’

And I wonder if this is why she was drawn to the faraway. Hope, a need for space and a longing for something you can never quite get a grasp of.
This piece draws on the lines and distance of the moorland where Anne grew up and is also reminiscent of the contours of the bay at Scarborough. I liked the idea that there’s this visual link between the two places that Anne might have experienced.

The Sea was my Delight

Video loop, Scarborough