This November ONCA is delighted to be hosting Kate Sherman’s solo painting exhibition, Rendlesham. Rendlesham is the culmination of a two-year project, during which the artist has documented the forest and created its portrait. Rendlesham Forest, in Suffolk, was initially planted by the Forestry Commission in the 1920s. Sherman’s first encounter with the forest was during a family outing – photos from that trip sparked a fascination and desire to capture the beauty, and frailty of this forest in an honest way. Many trips followed, each one revealing more possibilities, and strengthening the artists connection with this place.
The paintings, as with previous work, have no people, although the pathways, picnic benches and occasional vehicle are all suggestive of human presence. The pine and spruce trees stand elegant and tall, their soft, undulating foliage often described in an out-of-focus painterly way, contrasting sharply with the awkward, spiky forms of the pines when shown close-up. The paintings convey the calm feel of the forest, but there is also an edginess, which despite, or because of, their beauty and tranquillity, can be unsettling.
Sherman says of her work, “Painting is always a balancing act: to know when to stop before beauty tips over into cliché, or ambiguity becomes sinister. A successful painting maybe exists somewhere on the edge, where you can’t easily define it one way or another.”