Opus Art, Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom

An Ache for the Distance 2 by Hannah Brown

Hannah Brown Biography

Hannah Brown’s work centres on the English landscape and the way it is represented and reproduced through varying artistic media. She is interested in the paradoxical desire to seek beauty within the natural environment and then promptly alter it by creating one's own version; to hold a lasting possession of a place by imposing ones description, thoughts or ideals. Working within and against the omnipresent legacy of the English landscape tradition Hannah Brown searches for quiet, potentially unsettling places with a peculiar type of beauty.

W. G. Hoskins, author of The Making of the English Landscape (1955), criticises much of the response to the English landscape as ‘sentimental and formless slush’. Hannah Brown likes the idea of this slush and envisions a gooey image trying to slip out of our common reference points. There is a series of guide books, written around a decade before, with titles such as Romantic Britain and Brown imagines this is the style of writing to which Hoskins refers. These guides have notations beneath grainy smudged photographs taken in the late 1930's, although the book itself was published during the war, with a wealth of syrupy language that seems to acknowledge and indulge in sentimentalism of a bygone era.

The fine line between being poetic and being maudlin in response to a landscape holds a particular fascination to Hannah Brown and the point at which the mark is over-stepped may vary according to taste. It is arguably impossible to view our landscape without consideration of the people and movements that have left their mark on it or influenced our opinion. Brown is interested in pivotal points in our cultural history where our relationship to, and use of, the natural environment shifted; the English Landscape movement, quickly succeed by the Picturesque movement, the effect of the Industrial Revolution, WW2, and in the 50's and 60's the widespread use of motor cars and reduction of the railway.

As our relationship to the countryside continues to gently shift one element appears to remain constant; a lament for the loss of something that previously seemed to exist, albeit predominately in our imagination, fuelled by images on chocolate boxes and souvenir postcards. Here in lies the innate feeling of nostalgia connected to the landscape, for however wild looking and beautiful it is, was it not once more so? Was there not less visitors sharing the same view, less buildings and roads jolting the vista, and better weather the year before?

Hannah Brown graduated from the Royal College of Art, London in 2005 and has been featured in The Guardian, Time Out London and Express and Echo. Brown has exhibited widely in Britain and has been shortlisted for the Jerwood Artist’s Platform, the Exeter College Purchase Prize as well as the 2011 Threadneedle Painting Prize in London.

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