Nature is at the heart of the latest exhibition at the Astley Cheetham Art Gallery, Stalybridge. There are more than 30 works on display – all of them exploring how nature has inspired art through the centuries.

The exhibition is split into five different themes: Inspiration, Atmosphere, Skill, Documentation and Narrative. It covers the 500 years from the 16th century to the 20th, but is not organised chronologically. Each section is mixed to reflect how artists’ concerns cut across time.

“Nature as a Skill” investigates how nature can be used by artists to show off their skills for creating perspective and textures. Helen Coleman’s depiction of “Tom Tits” showcases her ability to accurately paint the textures of the birds’ feathers. Stuart Lloyd’s “Cornwall” is a lesson in perspective with diminishing boats and trees.

The “Nature as Documentation” section looks at how nature and landscape paintings provide a travel log or topographical record of a specific scene. William Leighton Leith’s small watercolour drawing “Snowdon” may have been used by him to create another finished piece. William Collingwood Smith’s large-scale watercolour “Venice” would have made an excellent souvenir and record of a visit to the city.

“Daffodils” by Mark Gertler was painted in 1914 just as the First World War was starting. Gertler was a pacifist and conscientious objector. It is likely he painted the daffodils for their symbolism of forgiveness, loyalty and compassion. He was bitterly opposed to conflict and committed suicide in 1939 as the Second World War loomed.

Cllr Frank Travis, Tameside Council’s assistant executive member with responsibility for culture, said: “ ‘Nature in Art’ is an impressive and thought-provoking exhibition that takes in a broad sweep of time. I thoroughly recommend a visit.”

You can see the exhibition until Saturday, August 5. The Astley Cheetham Gallery above Stalybridge Library on Trinity Street, and is open on the first and third Saturdays of each month 10am to 3pm.


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