Peter Unsworth

Different Places

25 April–7 May 2022

Private View: 26 April 2022, 6.30–8.30 PM


Words and paint sit uncomfortably together, that ‘essential thing’ that lies trembling under the paint is, after all, ineffable. You really are on your own. I can only attempt to give some sort of direction, an intimation of what I think my painting is about.

Not the pure idea, nor the visual image on the retina, but the sense image, stirring an idea that lies buried more deeply in the memory. I search for atmospheres, places, situations that might reveal the ambiguities of reality, and the open borders around everyday perceptions.

“The moment in the rose garden, the moment in the arbour where the rain beats, the moment in church at smoke fall.”— T.S Eliot

I try to give visual from to essences about people and the mysteries of time and place. “Place frequently operates as the sum of all locations that have been left behind or yet to be reached. Place is not the passive object of our gaze but a volatile participant, dynamic and commotion causing. Place and mind might interact until the nature of both is altered by the unbidden adhesions of memory that bind one place to another, those insubstantial mists of association through which we move and within which we see. It sometimes feels as if we were shaped. Thought by place.”— Robert Macfarlane, ‘The Old Ways’

Those scenes in a Fellini film when characters ‘freeze’ as if in expectation of some unexpected and unspoken message. That sudden awareness of something ‘other than what it is’, one situation as a mask for another, an apprehension of border lands between sleeping and waking.

Light is a crucial element — as a sort of visual dimension of time. Time cannot be represented, but the arrival of light can be painted, ‘with time within’.

Some paintings were inspired by those worryingly sweet, primary, schematic landscapes in Rupert Bear books. Mesmeric in their fixity, forever bright and changeless. Not the magic carpets or Chinese pagodas but that sense of things hidden, or pending, or lost. A sense of expectancy, of ambush. A place where objects gather intensity, change, become ‘other’.

We search for some sense of ourselves. And when the everyday explanations, orderings and categorising no longer satisfy or give solace, one is left with a sense of unease.

Peter Unsworth