An exhibition at the Plough by Laura Hudson
ANDSCAPES that began in the wild mountains of the French Cévennes are on show at the Plough this month. Experimental film-maker Laura Hudson showcases work exploring the effect of light on land.
Laura spent nine years living at Mas du Diable, a 12th century farmstead in the isolated mountains near Portes Castle. There she learned to grow and save the seeds of open-pollinated edible crops, just as they did 800 years ago. Shortages of water, wild weather and roaming boar made life difficult but it was the energy of the land that drew her there.
"Being close to the land has a way of bringing into focus what is important, for me it was appreciating what makes me happy and to follow my childhood dream of becoming a painter."
While in France she tried to capture the feeling and energy of the land with a camera.
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"All a camera can do is record a fraction of a second, an instant in time, which, to me was a misrepresentation of the living thing. When I turned to paint, it was different; far from being a dead medium, this way of working related more closely to the living world."
During the time it took to create a painting she watched the land and the things growing on it changing.
"Sometimes I was able to distil that into a single painting, one day folding over the next. Some paintings, once started, might have to wait until conditions repeated the next day or a full year later in order to continue. Some started as quick sketches that grasped the moment with all the intensity of being and some were finally realised many hundreds of miles away here in Devon."
The wild mountains of the Cévennes have been a major influence on her current work.
"I am drawn to the land and the energy and power it has. My paintings are an emotional response to that energy, its beauty and its violence. They are conversations of place; a journey, a memory of shifting light and air. Painting is, for me, a way of understanding the nature of time. In nature what is visible shifts moment to moment but that reality has taken millions of years to evolve."
The fact that Laura has no formal training in painting is something she finds liberating.
"None of my landscapes are populated but the human presence can be traced in the paths, walls, and clearings and in the forests planted for food and lumber that made the mountains habitable. I don't think that makes them desolate but rather a celebration of times passed and journeys still being made."
Recent work by Laura Hudson is at the Plough Arts Centre until Saturday, January 26. Details: 01805 624624.