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ID number:  BIRRC-A0073
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Mason, Gilbert (1913-1972)
Title / Object name:  Coastal harbour with yachts
Object type:  Painting
Date made:  1963
Materials:  Oil on board
Measurements:  121.92 x 59.69 cm
BIRRC-A0073(1).jpg

This painting has a striking horizontality and an abstract geometric quality. The lozenge shaped clouds are captured with bold white paint strokes that sweep across the sky, whilst the boats on the horizon and the townscape in the distance are reduced to yellow and white squares and rectangles. Mason’s decision to dissect the picture space by a block of grey in the foreground gives viewers the impression that they are peering out over a sea-wall to the scene beyond. It also divides the picture space into three separate horizontal bands of sky, sea, and wall. For this work Mason had limited his palette to about four colours, using muted greens and aqua for the sky and sea, with occasional flashes of salmon pink or a wash of golden yellow. Mason captures the play of light as it is diffused through the clouds and reflects off the water. Dark clouds cast by the cloud resemble animal tracks in the snow. Gilbert Mason studied at the Royal College of Art in London as an etcher, engraver and draughtsman. Later he taught at Leeds School of Art before moving to Birmingham in 1952 where he stayed for the remainder of his teaching career finally becoming Head of the School of Painting at the Birmingham College of Art in the mid 1960s and retired in 1970. He painted many landscapes; most of his later works being executed in acrylics and inks. His work can be seen in the context of the revival of the romantic tradition in British art fostered by Herbert Read (1893-1968). This is one of two landscapes by Mason owned by the Research and Cultural Collections. The other, Untitled Landscape 1963, can be found within the Vice Chancellor’s Suite in the Aston Webb Building.

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