Mike Holcroft

Mike Holcroft 

My immersion ‘into the landscape’ began when unknown to my parents I bunked-off school and spent my eighth birthday in late January shivering with a fishing rod on the banks the River Ribble in Lancashire. This experience - two minnows and a gudgeon - led to an obsession with fishing and shooting and by the age of fifteen I owned three shotguns. In the game season, I supplemented my lowly-paid day job by selling trout, partridge, pigeon, duck, pheasant but mainly rabbit.

Mike Holcroft
Stoodley Pike and Heptonstall church, charcoal/pastel on paper, 102 x 85 cm
My shooting days came to an abrupt end aged 17 when in fading light I shot an owl by mistake. My hunting friends and I had a deeply held but perhaps superstitious belief that such an act had ominous consequences. I threw my treasured Bernadelli shotgun into a deep basin in the river never to shoot again. This experience led me to turn inwards and from that moment on I developed a more contemplative approach to life. Instead of stalking game, I became a hunter of images and in the blink of an eye I was in the life room of Blackburn School of Art (65-67) gaining admission with a 20ft long work on the reverse side of a roll of wallpaper using charcoal, pen and ink - expressionistic depictions of the Blackburn poliomyelitis epidemic of 1965. Then on to Walthamstow School of Art (69-72) and Royal College of Art (72-76).Returning to my roots in The North of England after a long absence has triggered a passionate interest in landscape. Here in Todmorden, it’s easy to access within a ten to fifteen minutes  brisk walk, the rambling, natural rich diversity of oak-clough woodlands that rise up steeply from the valley bottom and cluster along the skyline of pasture, eventually petering-out into wild moorland.

Mike Holcroft
Church of Saint Branch [Three-Limes], charcoal on paper, 2018, 110 x 80 cm

Mike Holcroft
Stoodley Pike from Lobb Mill Todmorden, 2018, charcoal with pastel on paper, 100 x 93 cm

I find the ever changing complexity of wood-land-scape simultaneously uplifting and unsettling and I try to reflect this ambiguity in my work. Gradually, over the past few years trees have become essential subject matter through which I’m able to ‘speak from the heart’ with my language as a visual artist. Returning to ones place of origin after a forty years absence can be a gamble but in my case I feel increasingly able to connect with that magical element- inspiration. It doesn’t happen everyday and it certainly doesn’t come easy. The very best moments on a walk can leave me lost for words as I reach for the camera or sketchbook in order to capture what can often be a fleeting moment. The photo/sketch may lie dormant for weeks or months but once triggered passes through a series of graphic transformations all leading towards the closest proximity to the original scene that grabbed me.

Mike Holcroft
The River at Eashing, oil paint on canvas, 91 x 62,cm

When a drawing takes-off it slowly develops to a point where it has its own inner dynamic and momentum. A struggle then ensues as the surface undergoes constant orchestration, a process of erasure and editing, akin to both forging with hammer and anvil alongside the delicate application of pastel or charcoal.

It is an ironic use of trees burnt offerings charcoal, used in order to record its beauty!

Mike Holcroft
Road to Rake Farm N° 5, charcoal and pastel on paper, 55 x 62 cm, 2017

Mike Holcroft
Mist on The Road to Rake Farm N° 3, charcoal and pastel on paper, 59 x 45 cm, 2017

Mike Holcroft
Road to Rake Farm N° 4, charcoal and pastel on paper, 62 x 52 cm 2017

Mike Holcroft
The Unitarian Church, charcoal and pastel, Todmorden,80 x 78 cm, 2017


Natasha Lien

Natasha Lien


Brought up walking my dogs everyday in my nearby National Trust woodland,  experiencing the change of seasons and different colours and the contrasting structure of trees with and without leaves I want to share their life-enriching experience in my work.

Natasha Lien
Frithsden Beech Pencil 90 cm x 120 cm

I am passionate about drawing, painting and doing etchings of trees all over the world
(including Ethiopia, Jordan and Morocco) : my mission is to depict them in various forms from rhythmical group compositions to the individual textures of each particular tree and structure within.

Natasha Lien
Hampstead Sweet Chesnut 150 cm x 95 cm

I am inspired by drawings and paintings of trees in art from Titian, Constable, Corot, Delacroix, Courbet, Shishkin, Cezanne to Van Gogh and Mondrian. I am also intrigued how trees have a quality that encourages pareidoliacs to see random objects in them and cultures to create stories about them.

Natasha Lien
Hamstead Heath Etching-Aquatint 76 cm x 54 cm

My work varies in scale and medium; I naturally work on a large scale which suits the complexity of trees. The size of a work affects the way one enters it: I want to give the viewer the sensation of being present. I often work on location for several months frequently using joined up sheets of A1 paper for practical transportation. I transcribe some of my drawings into etchings or paintings.

Natasha Lien
Kensington Gardens Pencil 138 cm x 149 cm

In today's world where many people are often in a rush, I feel that it is a real privilege to pause and reflect on life, so my work on location is like a meditation of being present.

Natasha Lien
Kensington Gardens Etching 83 cm x 60 cm


Lara Cobden

Lara Cobden

I feel most at home amongst trees. Wherever I am, the woods offer a place to retreat to, to reflect, inspire and individual trees an eternally generous and benevolent source of healing and wisdom.

Lara Cobden
She fell, landed somewhere between awareness and surrender, Oil on canvas, 70 cm diameter

Rooted in a central theme of recollection and sense of place, my paintings are informed by observation, memory and dream. They are a subjective and individual response to my surroundings, calling on an imagined, coveted past that is unreal; a magical realism. Pulling between the chimerical and the familiar - I hope there is both a stillness and fluidity in my work; in the ordinary, a sense of reverence. Paintings evolved from remembered fragments and casual snapshots shift between misty and precise, perceived reality and imagined narratives. 

Lara Cobden
Afterglow, Oil on wood panel,  50 cm x 50 cm

A desire to capture the essence of experience - a fleeting moment, ephemeral and yet resilient in its presence, are what inspire me to paint.

Lara Cobden
Her Heart was shaded by the sadness of gravity and the bliss of dappled sunlight, oil on linen 100 cm x 130 cm

I like to inhabit and explore this in-between place and try to collect and recreate that residue of experience; like recording details, grasping at the gossamer fabric of waking from a dream. 
Trees and forests offer a unique space for this journey to begin, at once interior and exterior, offering both refuge and unease, a starting point for as yet untold stories, portals into another world.
The thread pulling my work together is about 'coming home', belonging; or conversely a sense of ‘unbelonging’.

Lara Cobden
 A willow and an oak, Oil on wood panel, 50 cm x 60 cm

Lara Cobden is a figurative painter living and working in Norfolk. Following her Fine Art, Painting degree at Brighton University, Lara spent 11 years in Ireland before relocating to East Anglia. Focusing on memory and sense of place, her paintings are a response to the natural world around her.

Lara Cobden
Following the call of inaudible voices, Oil on canvas, 100 cm x 100 cm

‘Cobden’s ethereal forest scenes delicately balance impressions of a rather contradictory nature, where feelings of slight caution created by the lurking depths of the forest are met with a distinct sense of life and hope, emanating from light found at the end of the foliage’s misty tunnel.
The hazy nature of the artist’s graceful technique however helps bind these apposing elements together, somewhat diffusing and blending the darkest darks of the works into the softened earthy colours of the surround trees. By handling the paint so tactfully in all areas of the painting, the space and depth of the environments become evermore prominent, helping emphasise such feelings of being swallowed and suffocated by the growing forest, or relief from finding the fresh, open air.’  Adam Reid - Metaphysical Objectivity in Comparison with Realism 2013

Lara Cobden
In to the Enchanted Garden, Oil on wood panel, 80 cm x 100 cm

Paul Newman

Paul Newman

Now living in Somerset, Paul Newman graduated from Falmouth College of Arts in 1995 after A-Levels and Foundation in Poole and Bournemouth, Dorset. As a graphic fine artist intrigued by nature, he works exclusively in graphite and is interested in detail, texture and tone inspired by elements of the ancient landscape and stories of Wessex.

Paul Newman
In the margins, 2014, graphite on bristol board, 21.5 x 30 cm

His work is created by research into the nature and history of places that interest him; geology, ecology, historical remains or natural history. Walking is an important part of the working process, getting to know a particular area well, understanding how it was shaped. Much of his work comes from places that have an ingrained historical meaning or personal significance and the work is mostly a response to being affected by memories or experience over time in that place. He is keen to make links between the places that he finds and the stories that fashioned them. His influences are maps and writers, geologists and legends, songs and poems. Drawings and photographs taken in the field are then worked up into finished pieces in the studio.

Paul Newman
Langdon Hill, 2010, graphite on bristol board, 22 x 16 cm
Paul is also interested in how nature manifests itself on human objects, reclaiming and abstracting these forms, such as overgrown remains, weathering, seasonal change and decay. He looks for evidence of human activity changing landscapes into places, creating unique locations which can affect, uplift or threaten.

Paul Newman
Path to Golden Cap, 2007, graphite on bristol board, 15 x 15 cm

He has shown work at various galleries across the South West, including the Bath Society of Artists and the Royal West of England Academy as well as in London with the Society of Graphic Fine Art.

     “All in all, it's true to say that Newman is a collectible artist who produces graphite works of reflective beauty.  His research is profoundly felt through his pictures. And it is true to say that to experience his work is to respect the challenges of time, balance, conflict, detail, uniqueness and scale with which he so elegantly battles in the pursuit of what we so often simply refer to as ‘nature’." J.A. Harris

Paul Newman
Ash, skywards, 2010, graphite on bristol board, 15 x 15 cm

Paul has worked as a trustee for Black Swan Arts in Frome, as the event co-ordinator for Somerset Art Weeks and curated the 2016 Quartz Arts Festival in Taunton. He is also the curator of a recent touring exhibition, ‘The Transformed Land’ and has worked on many exhibitions for Black Swan Arts.

Paul Newman
Queen of the Woods, 2017, graphite on bristol board, 26 x 26 cm


Art Bermondsey Project Space - The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017

Goetsch Winckler 4 by Jemma Appleby

The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017
curated by Philippa Beale
12 December 2017-13 January 2018

Gallery one

The appearance of the Arborealists in 2013 is an extraordinary phenomenon within the pervading orthodoxy in an art world that values post modernist objects, film and popular culture. Where events, interventions and installations engage the viewer, what can ‘tree painters’ (the Arborealists are for the most part painters), offer a public that is understandably titillated by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Nevertheless, the incredible success of the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate proves that the general public are still interested in artists who reveal nature. 

In recent years, many artists have discovered that trees have become one of their most penetrating of influences. The story of their existence and survival is intrinsic to our history and culture, they are even a part of our political landscape. They are a metaphor for our own survival. They live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. As ‘specimens’, they also can stand alone, not out of choice but like brave, solitary people who stand up to be counted, like ‘the one just man’ who does not remain silent when evil is done.

Trees represent the holy, the exemplary, the beautiful and the strength required of mankind. Cut down a tree and it reveals its whole history in the rings of its trunk, all its scars, struggles and suffering. The attacks of axe, saw and storms leave scars but as every forester knows, the hardest woods have the narrowest rings and it is in the most infertile places that the strongest and most indestructible trees grow. Trees permeate our history providing inspiration for religions, literature, poetry, visual art and architecture. 

Philippa Beale.

Vaux en Couhé, France, May 2017

Excerpt from the exhibition catalogue.
Catalogue available (French/English)

L’émergence des Arboréalistes en 2013 est un phénomène assez extraordinaire au sein de l'orthodoxie prévalente d’un monde artistique qui valorise les objets post-modernistes, le cinéma et la culture populaire. Face aux performances, aux interventions et aux installations qui font participer le spectateur, alors que peuvent encore offrir des « peintres d'arbres » ? Et les Arboréalistes sont pour la plupart des peintres. Que peuvent-ils offrir aussi à un public qui est habitué à Jeff Koons et Damian Hirst ? Néanmoins le succès incroyable de l'exposition David Hockney à la Tate Gallery prouve que le grand public s'intéresse toujours aux artistes qui montrent la nature.

Ces dernières années, de nombreux artistes ont reconnu dans les arbres une de leurs influences les plus pénétrantes. L'histoire de leur existence et de leur survie fait partie intégrante de notre histoire et de notre culture. Ils font même partie de notre paysage politique. Ils sont une métaphore de notre propre survie. Ils vivent en tribus et en familles, dans les forêts et les bosquets. Ils peuvent aussi rester des « spécimens » solitaires, non par choix, mais comme des personnes seules, courageuses qui se dressent, pour être comptées comme « le seul juste », celui qui ne se tait pas lorsque le mal est commis.

Les arbres symbolisent l'exemplarité, la beauté et la force dont l'humanité a besoin. Coupez un arbre et il révèle toute son histoire dans les anneaux de son tronc, toutes ses cicatrices, ses combats et ses souffrances. Les attaques de la hache, de la scie et des tempêtes laissent des cicatrices, mais comme tous les forestiers le savent, les bois les plus durs ont les anneaux les plus serrés et c'est dans les endroits les plus infertiles que croissent les arbres les plus forts et les plus indestructibles. Les arbres irriguent notre histoire. Ils inspirent les religions, la littérature, la poésie, l'art visuel et l'architecture.

Philippa Beale.

Vaux en Couhé, France, Mai 2017

Traduction Guillaume Brandy

Extrait du catalogue d'exposition
Catalogue disponible (français/anglais)

December 12, 2017 @ 10:00 am - January 13, 2018 @ 6:00 pm

Opening times:
Mon: By appointment
Tues - Sat: 11:00 - 18:00
Sun: Closed 

Art Bermondsey Project Space