A visit to Kristan Baggaley’s studio, 2 May 2016. Kristan was showing his Dark Peak paintings in his viewing room, but he was working on St Ives paintings in his studio. You can see his paintings here
The St Ives Coastline Series
I have been inspired by a relatively short length of Cornish coastline from Zennor Head to St Ives, which I visit for several months of the year. I have been painting on location in this area for several years in all weathers and seasons. I am particularly energized by the storms that hit this exposed coastline and the quickly changing light the weather conditions bring. The ever changing colours of the sea in the area I find very inspiring, from the deep indigo blues and rich turquoise greens to the sparkling whites in the surf. The dark tones of the igneous rocks with flashes of bight yellows and oranges of various sea weeds, act as a sharp contrast to the vibrant colours of the ever moving sea.
All the paintings have all been painted in the last couple of years and relate to the space and light synonymous with my experience of the area, combined with an emotional response to the sense of place.
Kristan studied Fine Art in Nottingham and Birmingham before moving back to Sheffield several years ago, drawn back by the open landscape of the Dark Peak, with which his work is often synonymous. His heavily textured paintings of the moors and grit-stone edges in all seasons and weather describe and explore the fall of light, cloud and shadows over immense distances. Although his paintings are usually specific to particular places in the landscape, abstracted visionary qualities become uppermost. The layered depths in these landscapes correspond to the memory and association connected with familiar places. Baggaley knows the land so well that the moors in all their guises have become a metaphor for intimations of hope and harmony that are only to be found in nature; he believes that in painting the familiar subject matter, the inessential falls away leaving the essential.
The surface of the work is all-important and he drags and cuts the material around the canvas, using forks and combs to plough the paint as a farmer may work his fields. In his technique he adds fine sand to the oil paint, which he applies with large palette knives and decorator’s brushes. Sketchbook work is all-important when considering composition and colour. Indian ink and thick graphite pencils are used in this preparatory work and the movement and action of mark making are gestures learnt for the subsequent canvas work. Kristan Baggaley believes that without a strong spiritual connection and feeling for his subject matter the work could never effectively communicate to an audience.