Tresco, Isles of Scilly
Where would you like to view the latest paintings of the Isles of Scilly? On a trademark curl of white sand? From a serene hilltop gazing across bucolic perfection to a dancing sea? How about the wall of a tiny picture postcard harbour, or among lush foliage in one of the world’s most famous botanical gardens?
It’s your choice. A new summer exhibition on Tresco has transformed the privately owned island into a vast al fresco gallery. Four super sized acrylic and oil artworks, all with widescreen big sky panoramas, will be displayed in the exact location they were painted earlier this summer, showcasing Tresco’s startling diversity and extraordinary beauty.
The dramatic 2m x 2.5m paintings are the work of Anthony Garratt, who developed the concept after working outside on a blustery day in the Black Mountains. “It was cruelly windy,” he recalls. “I thought this is part of the experience; it’s part of the painting. We should transmit that to people rather than taking it into the controlled environment of a gallery. You rarely, if ever, see a painting where it was actually created.”
While visitors might view the landscapes in a warm sunny breeze, the visually explosive, expressionist works portray each scene in diverse weather, reflecting the wild winter days Garratt has spent on the island. “Weather changes everything,” he says. “The light, the mood, the whole lot. It’s very thought provoking to see several different skies in one painting.”
A painting by Anthony Garratt
To resist any unseasonal Atlantic blasts, the paintings – on marine plywood, coated with UV varnish – sit on heavy-duty steel easels designed by architects and built by shipwrights. Garratt, who intends this to be the start of a trail of ‘in situ’ works throughout Britain, has also written a musical score to accompany a film of their creation.
The outdoor displays are temporary additions to Tresco’s impressive art collection, fuelled by the private passion of the island’s owner, Robert Dorrien-Smith and wife, Lucy. As well as sculptures by Tom Leaper and David Wynne, Tresco’s cottages and restaurants sport paintings by famous artists with a link to the region from the late 19th and the 20th centuries, including Graham Sutherland, Sir Terry Frost and Dame Laura Knight, along with Ivon Hitchens, Dame Barbara Hepworth and Roger Hilton.