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ID number:  BIRRC-A0072
Institution:  Research and Cultural Collections
Named collection:  Campus Collection of Fine and Decorative Art
Artist / Maker:  Mason, Gilbert (1913-1972)
Title / Object name:  Landscape
Object type:  Painting
Date made:  1963
Materials:  Oil on paper
Measurements:  91.4 x 121.9 cm
BIRRC-A0072(1).jpg

Gilbert Mason studied etching, engraving and drawing, at the Royal College of Art in London. Later he taught at Leeds School of Art before moving to Birmingham in 1952 where he spent the remainder of his teaching career. He became Head of the School of Painting at the Birmingham College of Art in 1965. He painted many landscapes around this time, most of them 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 the art critic Herbert Read (1893-1968). This work was painted in oils applied with a wide brush for the sky and landscape, and employing stippling and dry-brush techniques to achieve the tangled, wiry look of the bracken in the foreground. The paint surface is covered in a fine pattern of cracks which adds texture to the roughly painted brambles underneath. It is very atmospheric, due in large part to Mason’s use of a dark varnish over vibrant oranges and sulphurous yellows. The scene is reminiscent of a dusky summer’s eve. But there is also a foreboding and unwelcoming feeling to this desolate landscape, evoking post-apocalyptic associations. There are no recognisable landmarks or geographical formations, so it is impossible to identify the exact location. However it is redolent of the local heathland around Sutton Park, or even Snowdonia where Mason enjoyed frequent hiking expeditions.

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