Gallery

Celia de Serra

I live in a small village in mid Wales, near Offa’s Dyke, nestling in the foothills of the Cambrian mountains. I’ve always lived and worked in the countryside and my art practice is very much about the natural world.  Although I began as a painter, I returned to drawing about 10 years ago. The drawing seems to have become my main focus - there is an immediacy and directness about it that I love; the marks, the tonal variations, the capacity to build up layers and depth without any confusion of colour. I use graphite pencil and charcoal (compressed/willow charcoal and conte, depending on the image) and predominantly work in my studio as the drawings are very time consuming to make - there are a lot of minute alterations and interventions that happen before the image ‘pops’. 

I spend a lot of time exploring the countryside with my camera and sketch pad.  I look for images that have something about them.  A sense of place is very important, so is the atmosphere created by different light effects - the way light can transform something, or illuminate a scene in a curious, otherworldly, or dramatic way. I never know what I might come across when I’m out and about, or what one idea might lead to.  It’s a constant process, and I often return to the same favourite locations year on year to experience changes in the weather, mood or light; or find things in the landscape that have been left or altered. 

In this exhibition I have included drawings of one of my favourite places - the Iron Age Hill Fort of Lewesdon Hill in West Dorset.   There is a distinct sense of history amongst its ramparts, the ghosts of ancient civilisations etched into the landscape.  The mixed broadleaf woodland that clocks the slopes of the hill is sympathetically and lightly managed by the National Trust and is a haven for wildlife. An old drovers road skirts along the western edge of the hill and avenues of knotted beach trees are abandoned hedges which now grow in strange and contorted shapes. It’s an incredibly rich environment to draw. 

The other drawings in the exhibition are from a new favourite place - the River Fowey at Lostwithiel, Cornwall.  Again, it’s a landscape that has seen huge changes in its history. Lostwithiel was once a very active port -  the harbour is gone now, and the river is sufficiently silted up to produce a slow, meandering flow to the sea. Trees line its bank, and if you’re lucky you might see the blue flash of a kingfisher.  The area that was the town dump, where land and water meet, is now a nature reserve bounded by two rivers and it’s here that I have found more rich subject matter for my work. 

I trained at Exeter University, studying English Literature alongside Fine Art, and since graduating in 1995, I’ve exhibited my work throughout the UK in galleries and art fairs - currently two galleries show my work on a regular basis. I’ve also completed a couple of public commissions for two NHS Trusts and a collection of my paintings remain on permanent display at Somerset and Dorset County Hospitals.

Lost River 1, 2021
charcoal on paper
33.5 x 49 cm
Lost River 2, 2021
charcoal on paper
33.5 x 49 cm
Lost River 3, 2021
charcoal on paper
33.5 x 49 cm
Lost River 4, 2021
charcoal on paper
33.5 x 49 cm
Review in
'The Week'