Judith Bridgland and Jenny Matthews - Wild Landscapes, Wild Flowers


Published: 5 July 2021

Thompson's Gallery, Aldeburgh are holding an exhibition of two of Scotland's leading women artists whose contrasting style and medium compliment each other beautifully and will show an abundance of atmospheric Scottish landscapes and flora. Judith's heavy use of oil with almost carved and bold brushstrokes is directly contrasting to Jenny's gentle watercolours where you can see the evidence of her time being taught by Dame Elizabeth Blackadder. Judith works using rich, vibrant colours to depict the feeling and energy of the landscape to convey description and emotion and throughout there are strong contrasts of light and shade, smooth thin paint with thick impasto, abstract yet representational which are fundamental characteristics of Scottish painting. Jenny on the other hand offers a more specific view, carefully and skilfully executed with a strong emphasis on botanical perfection yet also captures the Scottish landscape. Below Judith has described her feelings of the last year and how she has worked towards this exhibition:

"As a landscape artist, I am used to observing nature very closely and to returning to the same familiar spot again and again to paint, travelling up and down the country to do so in the process. However, our circumstances over the last year, with the busyness of our lives taken away and the shrinking of our personal worlds, meant that the passing of the seasons and the minutiae of daily change became more intense, more focussed on, more meaningful and poignant, and even more closely observed. For many of us nature has gradually moved to become something more central in our lives, something constant and comforting. Of necessity, inspiration for me has had to come from much closer to home; from my garden, from my beautiful local park which I visit every day, from re-exploring familiar, happy places. As a result, I think that the subject matter of my paintings has gained a real intensity, with a focus on the abundance of the natural world, and the seasons and rhythms of nature which just keep going, despite everything, in a demonstration of hopefulness and joy. Small things which might have been seen before as too mundane, too ordinary – wildflowers, a hedgerow, marks in the sand, waves on the shore, the patterns of crops, a sunset - now have an increased importance and significance. They have become things to treasure."

Jenny's feelings coming in to this exhibition in her own words:

"My garden has largely been the focus for this exhibition. Having recently moved to a house with a garden, and as a new gardener with definite favourites in the plant world, I had already begun to introduce my own favourite flowers. So when lockdown restrictions were imposed, I was able to focus my attention on the garden which became my second studio. Paintings such as 'Lilies Reappear', 'Marie's French Flowers' and 'Stormy Afternoon' were painted 'en plein air', whilst contending with bright sunlight, heat, cold and rain showers. Similarly is 'Foxgloves', self-seeded characters which made an unexpected but welcome appearance. Watercolour and its tendency to do its own thing makes it a perfect medium for creating spontaneous and vivacious paintings, full of colour and animation. The skill required to control the medium of watercolour needs to be tempered by an ability to preserve that first elation and excitement of discovery. Using larger brushes, and brushes which are difficult to control, helps me to continue to walk that tightrope! I no longer sketch out my compositions with a pencil, which I find also assists me to really focus on capturing the subject as I first experience it".