Currently exhibiting at Coldharbour Gallery, Bristol based artist Abigail McDougall showcases a series of original watercolour paintings.
Abigail’s work has been exhibited at venues in the UK including Bristol’s RWA, and at London’s International Affordable Art Fair. In 2010, she was shortlisted for the Urbis Prize and the following year, Abigail showed her solo project ‘Art for Sustainable Transport’ at the RWA in Bristol.
Her compositions are vivid and imbued with the true-to-life reflections observed from the field in which she gathers inspiration. With a particular talent for capturing the light in her subjects, Abigail is known for her subtle use of colour, and definition of the small details that she interprets to great effect.
Abigail has lived in both the UK, Italy and Canada, and has drawn on her travelling and experiences to both inform and develop her work. After graduating from Falmouth College of Art in 2005, Abigail relocated to Bristol to establish herself as an artist. She works from Jamaica Street Studios where she finds the atmosphere both energising and communally receptive to her ideas. Her former work, ‘Bristol in a Different Light’ encapsulates Abigail’s unique style – a series of paintings dedicated to landscapes and varying perspectives across the city of Bristol.
“The music of PJ Harvey captured and encapsulated the atmosphere of the raw British landscape.”
“I decided to do most of my work based on Bristol scenes, with a few Italy landscapes that I already had thrown in. I was working in watercolour, oils and acrylics, but eventually I started working mostly in watercolour because I loved the unique effects I was getting with the light, colour and transparency.” Abigail explains.
Abigail was commissioned to produce further work for Bristol’s Marriott Royal Hotel after the success of ‘Bristol in a Different Light’. She has continued to evolve as an artist, over the past ten years in which she has been living in the city.
“Bristol’s art scene has been brilliant for me because It’s so varied and inspiring and do-it-yourself, but friendly, down to earth and accessible at the same time.” She says.
It’s clear that her inspiration comes from both her current reality and existence within time and space – observing the rich and varied landscapes around her, and adapting these to fit with her own sensibilities which can often grow out of immersing herself in music and nature, as well as visual stimuli from her time spent in Cornwall:
“Cornwall is such a contradiction because on the one hand the massive seascapes make you feel very small, lonely and isolated. Yet, I can’t have been that lonely because I met my longest standing friends and colleagues there. The sense of isolation and community combined were the perfect conditions I needed to explore artistically.” Abigail recalls.
These direct experiences filtered through to Abigail’s watercolour paintings, as she experimented with a paired down style:
“The music of PJ Harvey captured and encapsulated the atmosphere of the raw British landscape. When I did do painting, it was often depicting large landscapes in muted colours using a limited palette. I learned observation and I learned discrimination of colour. Any peace of mind that I had came from the landscapes and the immersion in weather.” She says.
“The clarity and transparency of water inspires me.”
Like any artist, Abigail has needed to separate herself from the mass media and the messages therein, in order to gain distance and a sense of reflection. Growing up, she would create alternative worlds alongside her brother, which would become the beginnings of her own curiosity and creativity that would ultimately underpin much of her adult life:
“The narratives that came through from our creative activities were often of action, adventure, or just normal family life and consumerism.” She recalls.
Abigail’s compositions are filled with clarity and respectfully reflect the natural light of a particular moment. From water lilies to forests reflected on a pond’s surface, she captures each fleeting image with an intuitive understanding of both her art and nature itself.
“My work is all about light and colour and you can really experience and observe this if you paint outdoors in different locations. The clarity and transparency of water inspires me. Music also inspires me when I’m in the studio. Strong female voices like PJ Harvey and atmospheric, filmic music like David Lynch. I am inspired by authors including Hermann Hesse and Margaret Atwood.” Abigail explains.
Abigail’s work is currently showing at Coldharbour Gallery. Upcoming exhibitions include the RWA’s ‘Artist Network’ and Abigail’s Open Studio (to take place at Jamaica Street Studios in June). She has a research trip to Mexico planned and another to Belgium in 2017.
For more information on Abigail McDougall: www.abigailmcdougall.com
For more information on Coldharbour Gallery: www.coldharbourgallery.co.uk