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Curious Space: Transitions in Landscape

ArtLab23 Artists Collective

 9 - 20 July 2024

The ArtLab23 Artists Collective is a made up of OCA Alumni whose group exhibition is opening at Willesden Gallery, London on the 9 July. A private view event will be held on the 11 July where there will be an opportunity to view the work and meet the artists. You can reserve your spot here.

Relevant to our Summer of Sustainability the ArtLab23 Artists Collective invites audiences to consider human connections with the landscape through the emotional language of memory and imagination. Find out more and view the artists' work below.


Humans have always had an emotional connection with the environment. From the time our ancestors first explored and made sense of the places around them, they have layered their experiences with their own fears, hopes and aspirations. And just like humans, the landscapes themselves are never static. From the immediate shifts in perception as a bright sunny day becomes cloudy to the erosion of mountains over millions of years, a landscape is in constant flux.

Curious Space: Transitions in Landscape takes a subjective look at places where different elements of the landscape collide; where colour, light and form shifts and what was one thing is now another. The works, ranging from semi-figurative to more abstract, show how each artist interprets the shifting landscape according to their personal relationship with it.


Sonia Boening

I am an abstract artist working in Munich.

Ocean conservation and water were formerly my vital themes. I submerged large, pigmented canvases overnight in the ocean - the waves made the marks and I was merely the assistant. I used pigments to create the otherworldliness of my underwater realm and immersed myself in the poetics of pigments and my passion for blue.

Emerging from the depths of the ocean onto land and inspired by the tactile textures and colours of nature’s palette, I now work on ‘landscapes’ suffused with memory which find expression through the interpretation of light and colour. These works are with acrylic medium and pigments I win from coloured earth and stone in a meditative grinding process, both laborious and time consuming. I use texture and colour as my language and don’t claim to provide explanations. My process is tactile and physical. Materiality informs the meaning of my work. Presenting content in a sensuous way, I invite the viewers to immerse themselves in the beauty of our fragile world.

Walking the Walk, 2024, Pigments, inks, ground stone, marble-dust, acrylic medium on canvas 30 x 30 x 2 cm, £100

IG: @ocean_art_muc

Margaret Borthwick

For the last three years my art has become landscape-based exploring and immersing myself in a chosen environment and detailing macro and micro aspects over different seasons, weather conditions, times of day. The more I looked the more I became fascinated by the colours, patterns and shapes found in microcosms of nature from mosses and fungi colonising a small area of a dying tree to the coincidental patterns of fallen leaves. My work mixes imagination, memory and factual references from sketches and photographs to provide triggers for the finished work. My recent work has become smaller mainly A3, A4 and even 6x8 inch pen and wash depictions of fungi. These smaller examples can be framed singly or in multiples.

I still work in oils for larger more representational landscapes but have rekindled my love of watercolours especially using negative painting techniques. This is ideal for layers and patterns of leaves.

Autumn Leaves, 2023, Watercolour on artboard, 38 x 46cm (framed), £195

IG: @margaretborthwick8

Wendy Healey

Wendy Healey’s making draws on inspiration from her environment-absorbing sensory associations from her birthplace-Vancouver, her feral childhood in the Midlands countryside and home in rural Herefordshire. She explores connections between nature, our bodies and minds-what makes us human. Intuitively following the rhythm of natural and manufactured materials she transforms discarded debris, oxidised mud, bark, brambles, muslin, clay, dough, plaster, plastic, wipes to create energised sculptural forms and non-forms. Her work inhabits an ephemeral slippery place between the conscious and unconscious- our internal and external worlds.

Gaia-‘earth’s spirit’- an androgynous sensory form-emerges transforming found natural materials. Enlivened by the making process Gaia’s tentative first steps allude to new beginnings. Triptych a series of enmeshed archaic anthropomorphic forms epitomise aspects of life, death and afterlife. En pointe’s youthful stance is followed by Crumbling with associations to dying, Bastet exudes otherworldliness, reminiscent of Egyptian Deities. Emergent-an organic embryonic form emerges from its holding place alluding to a psychoanalytic state of ’oneness’- an illusionary emotional and physical fusion between infant and carer.

Triptych Series Enmeshed:

En pointe, 2022, Branch, wool, latex, debris, muslin, plaster, latex straw, branch, mud. 43cm height x 23cm width, £350

Crumbling, 2023, Metal candle holder, mud, straw, muslin, debris, grit, wool, 35 cm height x 12 cm width, £300

Bastet, 2023, Metal candle holder, mud, straw, plaster, rags, muslin, wool, pinecone, 40 cm height x 12cm width, £300

IG: @wendyhealeystudio

Alison McCoy

Inspired by Barbara Hepworth’s sculpture garden, my work aims to capture the interplay between space, sculpture, and natural vegetation in her landscaped environment. Hepworth’s garden explores how her sculptures interact with space, offering glimpses into her creative plant arrangements. Abstracting recognisable elements and echoing Hepworth’s spatial artistry, I invite viewers to explore the landscape through imagination, seeing it anew.

I delve into memory and imagination's emotional language within the landscape, prompting novel perspectives. My art probes memory's slippery nature, how recall fades, alters, distorts experiences. This exhibition showcases micro-scenes of Hepworth’s garden over time, framed by her sculptures, juxtaposing changing vegetation with enduring sculptures, symbolizing memory's intransigence. Using oil paint over acrylic underpainting, I manipulate the surface to represent distortion, referencing memory's imperfection. The resulting images retain originality while alluding to memory's degradation. Through my work, I aim to evoke emotional connections to Hepworth’s garden, inviting contemplation on memory, imagination, and the transient nature of perception.

Lens to the Past, 2023, Oil on board, 60 x 41.5 x 1.5 cm, £380

IG: @alisonmccoyart


I am interested in the physical qualities of the paint and the effects of light on the forms. My work dances around the boundary between reality and the abstract, the representational aspect of the art of the past and the flatness of the modern. I think it is important for an artist to own their subject so that it becomes a part of them. My still life subjects I own, the sketches I make during my walks in the woodlands and wetlands, that are the basis of my landscapes, I own.

Almost all my paintings take around ninety minutes, I call it the football process. Having trained and prepared and researched all week I am at a fever pitch. In the first 45 minutes, I establish my dominance over the canvas or board, at halftime, I have a plastic cigarette and a glass of wine and look hard at my progress in the first half, allowing the painting thus far to guide me into finding a resolution of the objective.

Sunset, 01 2023, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40 cm, £120

IG: @painterofpictures

Sue Parr

Sue Parr is a British visual artist who considers how art rituals can develop bonds of kinship and care across species via differing modes of exchange. The work is made with and of the landscape, employing plant, earth and body matter in a collaborative process between human and non-human. She is particularly interested in making contact with the overlooked and her current work honours relations with stinging nettles, considering the gifts they provide. Through slow making and intimate material encounters, the work brings the human body back in touch with the nettle’s, in an attempt to restore bonds of care and to promote mutual well-being and healing.

The repetitive twisting and attaching of nettle fibre and human hair together formed a type of prayer rope to the nettles, votive offerings made in exchange for a family member’s good health. The consequence drawings enact an evolutionary process. The resulting forms emerge through multiple interactions between earth pigment, nettle, oak, human, and folded substrate.

1. Prayer Rope (Votive), 2024, Foraged and hand twisted nettle fibre, human hair & Eggarden Hill chalk on board, 19.7 x 45.1cm (framed), £150


Arlene Sharp

Arlene Sharp is a contemporary painter, her work is inspired by the natural world, by landscape and organic form. Her interests lie in how we see and experience this world and how this can be translated into painting. Gathering visual information through walking, sketching and photography her mixed media paintings are built in layers. Juggling space, form and colour, Arlene’s paintings evoke a sense of place, reflecting her personal response to her surroundings.

A local woodland provides a constant source of inspiration. The Primavera series is an emotional response to the emerging spring foliage and clarity of light reflected in a lake, whilst Shroud, painted during the autumn, reflects upon a single tree hidden off the path. ‘I wanted to capture the sense of something unseen and solitary. The cool purples and blues/greens refer not exactly to autumnal woodland but to my sense of something oppressive or obscured…’.  Moments of Clarity (Where Witches Meet) and Seceda Ridge draw inspiration from a visit to the Dolomites, where the light and shadow of the landscape and clouds were in a state of constant flux.     

Primavera I, 2024, Acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 122 x 91 x 4 cm, £850

Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor specialises in representational paintings which cover a diverse subject matter. “I completed my degree in 2023 and am now expanding my practice beyond the subject area of my degree exhibition ‘Unhomely interiors’. This concentrated on documenting abandoned spaces, particularly building interiors, and the effect that the passing of time has had on these built environments and their contents. I work from found and self-sourced photographs using these as inspiration. Using water soluble oils and/or acrylic paint I explore how light illuminates the subject matter and often how the effect of halation, the spreading of light beyond its proper boundaries to form a fog around the edges of a bright image, creates tonal interest and emphasises shadows. My aim is to compel the viewer to take a closer look at their surroundings and the environment that they inhabit. My paintings in this exhibition, Mushrooms 1, 2 and 3 examine how they seem to capture and emit light in dull spaces.”

Mushrooms 3, 2024, Water soluble oils on canvas paper, (framed landscape) 28 x 33 cm, £200

IG: @artmat0807

Dhama Thanigasapapathy

Dhama Thanigasapapathy is a London based British artist whose work is informed by her interest in science, science fiction, psychology, futurism and her life-long fascination with the awesome power and chaotic beauty of extreme climatic phenomena. She spends many hours drawing, painting and photographing elements of the natural environment such as water, geological formations and weather effects. Multiple layers of diluted paint applied over weeks or months produce an other-worldly quality of light, distance, time, expanse, depth and scale. The painting process allows Thanigasapapathy to relate to the changing environment, allowing the materiality of the paint – splashes, drips, paint flowing like water, air, fire and earth – to echo the chaotic nature of the subject matter.

These semi-figurative speculative landscape paintings are imaginative renderings of future possibilities where extreme climatic forces transform, dissolve and erase constructs over time and space. Embracing the tension between celebrating the awesome beauty of a powerful nature and respecting its ferocious strength, they are based on a complex layering of reality, imagination, multiple overlapping memories, cultural stories and emotional drivers including unease and nostalgia.

Glyderau: The Glacier’s Revenge, 2023, Oil on canvas, 80 x 80 x 1.9 cm, £600

IG: @dhama100

Eddie Tucker

Eddie’s artistic practice explores how age and experience influence the appearance of a face and expanding these explorations to the physical world, looking at how the landscape has been influenced by man. The contours of landscape are reminiscent of scars, wrinkles and age on a face or body. Those that work the land or sea become greatly influenced by that environment. The seaman’s gait on land indicative of a life spent leaning to a pitching deck and headwind, his craggy face shaped and moulded by wind, sun and his trade.

Brighton Fisherman shows us the rugged coast around Brighton personified by the fisherman moulded by his trade. The facial wrinkles and knurled hands indicate the influences of a life spent on the sea in all weathers. The map shows the heavy influence of man - railways, roads, hamlets and towns all influenced by his shaping of the landscape.

These maps were used in my family since the 1950s, and like the landscape, have been shaped by man, with creases, tears, crumpling and scribbled notes indicative of a life of use.

Brighton Fisherman, 2023, Acrylic ink, old paper map mounted on canvas, 59 x 42 x 2 cm, £340

IG: @art_tucker


Save the date

We will be holding a panel discussion with some of the artists from ArtLab23 Artists Collective 8 August 2024 6pm BST. Find out about life after OCA, exhibiting as a group and working with a curator. Led by Dr, Bryan Eccleshall.

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