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Francesca Owen’s Year Of Painting In The Garden

Francesca Owen has been an artist in residence at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, and her show, ‘The Triumph of Love, a year of painting in the garden’ represents a whole year of painting here, gathering information for paintings that go deeper than observation and opens up a world of stories.

After a few of Francesca’s visits of painting smaller canvases by the pond located by the Chelsea Garden, she returned to the rest of the gardens, where she made a large painting on loose canvas. As the weeks went by, she noticed subtle changes in the environment of Tremenheere which prompted her to focus on one area of the gardens, so she followed her initial natural draw back to that pond.

“The pond had everything I needed. It had on a practical level, the water source for washing brushes and a platform to paint on or trees to lean canvases against. It had the seclusion I needed to focus on painting and the confusion of the exotic and deciduous plant life that was unique to Cornwall for its mild winters. The pond had huge lily pads and dragonflies that would sometimes rest near me when I was painting. In the summer, the whole place was glowing iridescent. I enjoyed painting with the warmth of the late summer sun as it welcomed the changes of autumn.” Francesca Owen

When autumn made a slightly late appearance, Francesca reported that the whole pond became ablaze with orange and yellow, and the trees began to show their skeletal structure, which resulted in 15 paintings in one sitting. In another, she painted two large 150x150cm canvases on frames and reworked them back at her studio, as she did with a lot of her loose canvas paintings by stapling cloth to walls using soft brush marks borrowed from impressionist influences. 

The Stages of Creation, Francesca Owen

During the winter, when the gardens were closed, Francesca was able to experience nature taking over. She chose warm, dry days to visit and enjoyed only the sounds of birdsong, wind in the trees, and water from the stream, where she tasked herself with painting techniques that would allude to the water. 

“I dreamt of making paintings there that would convey the power of the magic lake. They had to have the glow and power of the magic. I changed my palette to be more expressionistic, about light and tone and of lightness and intense brush.”

A soothing colour palette was inspired by the pale sky and large green trees of rhododendrons and camellias that surrounded her when working in her studio at Trewidden Gardens or visiting Tremenheere. The symbolism of the flowers, such as red Camellias for eternal love, were also taken into consideration. 

When the residency came to a close, she began planning work for her exhibition in Tremenheere Gallery: 

The paintings I was making now were beginning to inform one another and this was the point of ‘pure painting’ that a language is created from one painting to the next, they have a dialogue and you can see the maker of the paintings in the work too. Yet they should hold a strand between them and this is an exciting point to get to in painting which takes a long time. I hoped it was something I could build on. Thinking this way helped me to visualise the show and how the work would begin to look when they were all hung in the gallery space.

We’re excited to see the outcome of Francesca’s year of painting in the gardens during her exhibition The Triumph of Love in the lower gallery, 3rd-30th September. Click here to find out more about the exhibition.