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Landscape in Flux – Canvas & Cream Art Prize Winners Susan Eyre and Ashley Hanson

Voted winners of the Canvas & Cream art prize, both Susan Eyre and Ashley Hanson are currently showing works which respond to and react with ‘landscape’. Both fictional and real, historical and time-based, a multitude of layers reveal moments and tell stories of time passed, the artists simultaneously intervene and interpret society’s relationship to the natural geological and man-made geographical environment.

While the work of Susan and Ashley both start from a particular relationship to landscape the technical application and emotional response produces very different visual effects.

Susan Eyre explores idealistic fantasies set against an urban reality. Drawing on cultural references, romantic archetypes and contemporary situations she constructs landscapes that appear familiar yet are inauthentic, mixing fantasy with the mundane. Artifice and a dislocation from the natural world are key themes in her work.

‘StrataGem imagines the possibility of the formation of geological strata created from the waste of plastic food packaging trays. The patterns from plastic food trays are used to describe an imaginary strata of beautiful rock formations and gemstones from the deposits of plastics in landfill sites’.

 ‘Incidence’ explores both a spiritual and scientific response to nature. Reflecting on the loss of childhood it exploits a nostalgia for youthful abandon when nature was full of wonders to be discovered. It employs live edge Perspex to capture light and cast colourful shadows across the work creating a visible Angle of Incidence: the angle formed by a ray incident on a surface and a perpendicular to the surface at the point of incidence’.

Susan works with various printing techniques, mixed media and textiles and has a unique method of fusing synthetic and natural materials to create contrasting and incised surface textures

Ashley Hanson has always been intrigued by the dialogue and tensions between opposites – between image and the flat painter’s space, the curved and the linear, the natural and the man-made landscape’

In the series City of Glass inspired by the novel of the same name from Paul Auster’s ‘New York Trilogy’ Ashley explores the relationship between fact and fiction. The paintings are simultaneously ‘factual’ and ‘fictional’ landscapes, combining ideas sourced from information, from text, from maps and drawings with ideas generated during the process and memories of Ashley’s own experiences of New York.

In the novel, by the means of his daily meanderings, a deranged scholar invisibly writes the words  T..H..E..T..O..W..E..R..O..F..B..A..B..E..L.. onto the streets of New York.  It is a building that is there but not there, and in the larger canvases, by orientating Manhattan on the vertical, this central image and the verticality and architecture of New York are implied in the grid pattern of the streets.

The paintings refer both to the novel and to each other. In City of Glass 1, Manhattan is deliberately de-cluttered and isolated with locations from the novel highlighted as tiny green dots. City of Glass 2 began with a painting premise: how to make Manhattan work on the left side of the canvas. The problem of the East River curve solved by finding an scaled up echo in the curve of Broadway on the Upper West side, which happens to be the area where the words are invisibly written….. .City of Glass 3 references New York’s ziggurat-shaped Paramount building, where Central Park becomes a window.

‘Truthville, NY’ and ‘Hope Falls, hope falls…..’ also illustrate the enormous scale of the Tower of Babel, where ‘a man has to walk for 4 days to escape its shadow’.

‘With these paintings, I wanted to know, that if you had the southern tip of Manhattan as a starting point and y


ou walked continuously for 4 days, heading north, where you might end up?  There were two standout candidates, both about 200 miles from New York, whose names I felt had strong 

connections to the novel – hence the two paintings. Hope Falls, hope falls… has a gorgeous duality, it’s a real place, there is the image of a waterfall but the words also describe the disintegration of the detective in the novel as he realises the futility and impossibility of his assignment. Truthville is a kind of joke, an irony, as I still haven’t worked out the ‘truth’ of the narrative. It’s exciting working from another genre, and as a visual artist, I admire and can relate to, Paul Auster’s layerings of truth and reality and his explorations of chance’  


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