Silent Spaces - Nicholas Herbert, Mixed Media Landscapes

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‘Silent Spaces’ is a series of twenty-five small, intimate and self-contained mixed media landscapes inspired by the chalk uplands, wooded hillsides and secluded valleys of the Chiltern Hills. Nicholas Herbert uses his physical and emotional experiences of this area to capture within these works the essence of the landscape, its enduring mass, transient atmospherics and ephemeral qualities of light, as well as to express his own meditative thoughts, personal memories and those subconscious responses that he inevitably takes from having been there. Integral to these works are ideas of the ancient, the mythic, the residual, permanence versus impermanence, decay and renaissance. Solitude and exposure are intrinsic conceptual strands within many pieces.These landscapes are instinctive and intuitive, a direct, visceral engagement. Through a process of mark-making, sedimentation of material, textural surface layering and precisely modulated monochromes, he interprets the fundamentals of the topography, in particular revealing its underlying, elemental nature: ancient, primitive, timeless, and unforgiving. These mixed media pieces use modest materials; a fusion of graphite, pencil, acrylics, gouache, chalk and soluble crayon on paper. The colour palette consists mostly of organic, neutral, desaturated and ‘unpretty’ pigments, which consciously de-romanticise the finished pieces. The working of these materials into the paper, sometimes degrades and scuffs the surface, adding to the texture and immediacy of the work so that it carries a little of the physical history of its making within itself. These landscapes invite contemplation and reward prolonged examination and deeper engagement.