ROBERT CUNNING – The City and Beyond
16-29 September 2016
City, country and the boundary between
The City and Beyond considers the relationship between city and country and the boundary between urban and rural.
A common thread of Robert Cunning’s paintings is that they evoke a strong sense of place, whether it is the deep rural hills of South Shropshire and the Welsh Marches, or the inner cityscapes of London and New York. His paintings observe the changing architectural spaces of our cities and the seasonal changes of the countryside.
W G Sebald commented: “Places seems to me to have some kind of memory, in that they activate memory in those who look at them.”
The memory of place is key to some of the paintings. The impressive mountains and hills of Wales and the borderland contain ancient rock formations and fossils, giving clues to the history of earlier times. The river estuary of London was once covered in forest, the remnants of which are revealed by tides to this day.
Robert Cunning lived and taught in London for 20 years and now lives in rural Shropshire. The journey between the two places informs his work, for example, the entrance into London by rail at Euston and Kings Cross. This area, which used to be on the outskirts of the city, has been redeveloped considerably in recent times for the International ‘Eurostar’ at St Pancras.
His training as a gilder and frame-maker naturally inclined him towards the preparation of gesso for frames and panels. The smooth surface of the gesso allows the images to emerge with great clarity. The paintings are built up slowly with many layers of thin oil paint which are blended together while still wet.