Conflicts and complexity in Leamington exhibition

editorial image

Tessa Beaver, Prints, Leamington Art Gallery, Pump Rooms until 22nd February.

Tessa Beaver is a true artist. Her work declares it and an impressive book co-authored by the show’s curator, Simon Kirby, confirms it, with some of the work looking even better in the book than it does in the gallery.

There’s a set of etchings of New England clapboard houses where single trees played off against deadpan backgrounds benefit from being seen in sequence.

But in general it’s the real thing that counts. Many of the prints have true presence by virtue of their scale and texture and the complexity of their imagery.

Nature and natural phenomena such as the shadows of leaves and branches cast on the ground are recurrent themes that are often given a twist through the adoption of quasi-oriental stylisation.

But as time has gone on the work has become darker, reflecting her concern about the nature of the conflicts that are taking place in the Middle East.

There is strength of feeling in this section of the exhibition and a challenging rawness in the choice and treatment of the subject-matter.

The work demonstrates unflinching determination in taking on such a demanding subject at this period of her life.

It’s a testament to her integrity and her unflinching courage.

By Peter McCarthy