Katty McMurray introduces a new collection of paintings inspired by West Wittering.
How do you choose a location and what do you look for?
Sometimes I travel specifically to a place, usually the coast. I look for shapes and space in the landscape, or if I am asked to work on a commission or a particular area I often just fall In love with the landscape. Sometimes I just stumble across places, I always have a sketch book with me so often I find the perfect view when I’m not expecting it.
What inspired you about the West Wittering, to use this for your recent collection?
I have been asked to draw the West Wittering for a project I’m working on for the new Royal Sussex Hospital in Brighton which will be used as large scale artworks for a wayfinding project within the building. My work is to be reproduced up to 6 meters long, it’s very exciting, when I went sketching ( in February!) I fell in love with the area, there is such a wonderful sense of space and it has a timeless quality.
Do you have any special connection to the place?
No not specifically, but being half Italian I never went to English beaches as a child, and I just love the fact that even when it’s cold everyone is still out on the beach barbecuing, paddling, windbreaks and sandy sandwiches- just so, so different from my childhood but so wonderful.
How has the West Wittering informed your technique?
I’ve returned to painting a sense of space that has been getting busier and busier with my recent paintings of Brighton, I’ve just been to Camber Sands as a result to look for more open space, I think that might be my next collection, or maybe Norfolk, I love open spaces...
Are there any particular places within the West Wittering that really captured your interest, and if so are they evident in your work?
Mainly the beach huts and the grassy dunes. The beach huts are magic, crowds of people all gathered round in all weathers, and the grasses are like sketches in their own right, wild flowers growing against the odds.
What time of year did you start sketching, and in what conditions?
Well it was February, and it was freezing, but there were still people paddling and just having the best time.
How long does it take for you to create the Spring collection?
Well it’s kind of a rolling collection, no real beginning or end, I’m still, working on new ideas and paintings from the West Witterings, and every so often I get swayed and do something different- I’m working on more drawings of beach huts from different parts of the country, I find one thing leads to another...
How has this collection evolved from previous works?
Well, I wonder if it’s evolved from Seasalter and Burgh Island, and I did a lovely commission of Budleigh Saunterton recently - beautiful big open beaches and beach huts have featured over the years, they are little coloured gems edging an expanse of space.
What are you most proud about/happy with how it has turned out?
I think there is a sense of calm and space in these paintings, and I actually think I will keep a West Wittering painting if I can. Our house is full of paintings but I only have 1 of mine from a special trip to Vietnam 25 years ago, the rest have all been placed, I think a West Wittering painting would remind me of perfect beach days with my young boys.