Gallery

Ursula Leach

Hedge Story
 
4 May - 1 June 2024
 
 
“Colour establishes the mood and inflects the bold structures of Leach's images.  Through images of rare and surprising beauty she makes us look again at our surroundings.”
Andrew Lambirth
 
Ursula Leach is a colourist whose subject is the landscape surrounding her.  For many years Ursula lived in Cranborne, Dorset, in the middle of big open fields, and her work reflected that, but after a move to Iwerne Minster, only a couple of miles from The Art Stable, she is now surrounded by a smaller patchwork of fields and woods, many of which are contained by ancient hedges.   
 
So when Ursula saw an article in a national newspaper last year, asking for volunteers to survey hedges for The Great Big Dorset Hedge initiative, she took part.  With that deepened knowledge added to her enthusiasm of this new visual landscape, Ursula has made hedges the subject of this, her fifth solo exhibition at The Art Stable, working up oil paintings and carborundum prints in the studio from drawings, colour notes and photographs, made from observing distinctive aspects of hedges in their settings.
 
The canvas provides a forum for investigating pictorial space, creating a dialogue between interior, sometimes bare space (large areas of unbroken colour) and the hedge or the edge of the canvas.  It is the formal demands of image making that really engage me, space, shape and especially colour.  Colour is used in a way that is non-literal.  Placing colours one against the other is intended to evoke a parallel to the atmosphere of the subject (landscape) however different that colour is from reality. Colour establishes the mood and offers a broad range of optical and emotional pleasures.  Although I am a formal artist I am also concerned with the subject and as with colour, the liminal area between the abstract and the figurative.
 
Hedges are surprisingly colourful when you look closely, catching the light in different ways, dotted with berries or speckled with blossom.  Playing with colour excites me and hopefully creates the mood I wish to express.  By radical simplification and constant editing of colour, shape and composition I hope to stimulate a direct reaction in the audience.
 
My partner has been a hedge layer, grower and planter so the project makes a happy and perfect circle.

Shape and colour lead us to the heart of Ursula Leach’s work: her interpretation of the landscape in and around Cranborne Chase. She examines field systems and notes the effects of new agricultural methods. Her gloriously heightened colour reflects the changes in crop and soil treatment. She draws first in the landscape to understand its forms, and then re-works her observations in the studio, exploring her responses to things seen. Colour establishes the mood and inflects the bold structures of Leach’s images, and offers a broad range of optical and emotional pleasures. Although Leach is a formal artist, interested in the interplay of geometric and organic, she is equally concerned with subject. She looks to the land as our essential context, and comments on the all-too-frequent spoliation of it. In the rigour of its formal simplifications, her work goes beyond appearances and investigates underlying shapes and patterns. As Robert Motherwell so emphatically put it: ‘no rendering of the appearance of reality can move us like a revelation of its structure.’ Through images of rare and surprising beauty, Ursula Leach makes us look again at our surroundings.

Andrew Lambirth

Ursula Leach trained in fine art at Winchester, Wimbledon and West Surrey Colleges of Art. She has exhibited widely in solo, group and touring exhibitions in the UK, Japan and Australia most recently in The Sydney Contemporary Art Fair.  Touring exhibitions include Elemental Insight at the Met Office, Exeter and museums nationwide, Circles and Tangents at Dorset County Museum and Salisbury Museum. Leach has been included in many Open prize shows such as The Threadneedle Prize Exhibition, London, The Hunting Art Prizes at The Royal College of Art, The Discerning Eye, London and International and National Open Print Exhibitions where she has three times won prizes and is a fellow of the Bankside Gallery. She has also shown at The Royal Academy, Southampton City Art Gallery and The Mostyn Art Gallery, Llanduduno. There have been reviews in The Week, The Wall Street Journal, Galleries magazine, The Spectator (Andrew Lambirth) and Contemporary Art magazine. Leach is also included in several publications amongst others Collagraphs and Mixed Media Printmaking, Printmakers Secrets, Circles and Tangents, Art in the Shadow of Cranborne Chase and 50 Wessex Artists.  

Isolated Hedge
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1700 (unframed)

Grown into Trees
oil on canvas
60 x 70 cm
£ 1800 (framed)

Hedgerow Gap
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1800 (framed)

Yellow Spring
oil on canvas
60 x 73 cm
£ 1750 (unframed)

The Vale I I
oil on canvas
107 x 155 cm
sold

Steep II
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1700 (unframed)

Stunted Hedgerow
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1800 (framed)

Four Hedges
oil on canvas
40x 40cm
sold

The Long Field
oil on canvas
66 x 92 cm
£ 1950 (unframed)

Hips and Haws Hammoon
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
sold

Green Spring
oil on canvas
60 x 80 cm
£ 1900 (framed)

Pink Path
oil on canvas
60 x 70 cm
£ 1750 (unframed)

High Hedge
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1700 (unframed)

Blackthorn
oil on canvas
30 x 30 cm
£ 450 (unframed)

Catkins
oil on canvas
30 x 30 cm
sold

Stacked, Summer
oil on canvas
60 x 60 cm
£ 1800 (framed)

Wood's Edge, November
oil on canvas
70 x 80 cm
£ 1950

Steep I
oil on canvas
65 x 65 cm
£ 1750

Winter Hedge
carborundum & hand colouring
21 x 31 cm
£ 465 (framed)

Blackthorn
carborundum & hand colouring
31 x 31 cm
£ 480 (framed)

Branch and Bole
carborundum & hand colouring
31 x 31 cm
£ 480 (framed)

The Gap
carborundum & hand colouring
31 x 31 cm
£ 480 (framed)

Hedgeline
drypoint & hand colouring
25 x 32 cm
£ 450 (framed)

Laid Hedge
drypoint & hand colouring
25 x 32 cm
£ 450 (framed)