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Newbury theatre show presents the drama of a seascape



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The Ebb and Flow of the Tide: mixed-media prints and paintings by Shirley Cartey at New Era Theatre. Review by LIN WILKINSON

The theme of this pleasing show is the dramatic duet between land and sea, as the artist responds to the rhythm of the tides, the geological formations of headlands, cliffs and rocks, and the ever-shifting sands.

The semi-abstracted work is strongly composed and resolved, and worked in a cool, unified palette – blues, greys and pale ochres – with small flicks and spatters of white presaging rain, or suggesting cresting waves. This firm sense of colour-balance evokes the grey skies and hooded light that speak unmistakeably of British weather.

Shirley Cartey
Shirley Cartey

The work is devoid of human presence. There is only one man-made structure, the stark, black pier in Nocturnal Bridge II, but even that is deserted. Cartey is concerned only with elemental forces and dramatic shorelines; the places where sea meets land. They exist in symbiosis, the sea continually shaping the land’s margins.

Watercolour printing on prepared perspex plates is the foundation of the work, giving the prints a feeling of transparency, layering and motion. The media flows like the sea itself, lending these works a quality of restless movement. You can feel the watery-ness of the sea, almost hear the sound of ocean and wind, and sense the soft, incipient, drizzly rain.

Shifting Light is the most abstracted of the works, the two triangular forms important compositional elements. Rising Waters can be read as three horizontal bands of delicate colour, as much as sky and sea. Every Wave makes the viewer feel almost as if they are in the white-crested water, with delicately outlined forms evoking the bubbling sea as it crashes on to the sand.

Shirley Cartey
Shirley Cartey

In a strong trio of mixed-media paintings, Rock Lines, Rock Lines II and Roseland, the emphasis is on the physical qualities of the low, foreground rock-shelves. They have a jagged, abstracted, bold angularity and linearity, with a heavy but positive use of black. An extended palette is employed in these works, with stronger, brighter colour often applied in defined areas. Yet the liquidity of the dark, opaque rock-pools is also sensed.

In Roseland Coast, acrylic has been applied thickly. Dense and sombre, it looks almost like heavy oil paint. There is a sense of foreboding, the power of the elements palpable.

  • View The Ebb and Flow of the Tide at New Era theatre, St George’s Centre, Andover Road, at performances or at other times by appointment. The exhibition runs with two open coffee and cake mornings, between 10.30am and noon on Saturdays, March 12 and April 2
Shirley Cartey
Shirley Cartey
Shirley Cartey
Shirley Cartey


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