Nature and Art

Nature and Art

Coronavirus means that the majority of us have suddenly found ourselves confined to our homes and unable to continue our favourite activities, such as going to the cinema or the gym. My two favourite past-times, going for long nature walks and viewing art in local galleries, are both ruled out by social distancing. The art centres are closed, and I’m stuck in the middle of the city without any countryside walks close by.

Not being able to do the usual activities that help us to relax and unwind can make this stressful time even more difficult. That’s why I think it is important to try and look for quarantine-friendly versions of our favourite past times.

I thought about how I could view art at home and how I could appreciate nature without leaving the house and that’s when I had the idea to combine the two and look for depictions of nature within art. As I looked through some of my favourite paintings on Art UK, I felt the familiar sensation of relaxation that I associated with being in nature, and inspiration that I associated with visiting art galleries. This gave me the idea to collate an online exhibition from The Atkinson’s collection that looked at arts depiction of nature.

The collection of paintings is filled with colour and movement, so many of them have big expansive skies that seem to undulate and come alive with the vibrant brush strokes and use of contrasting colour. I chose paintings that I found calming and filled with summer, there is a familiarity to all of them that I think will provoke memories of happier times within us.

My favourite of the collection is The Vineyard by Vanessa Bell. Bell was a talented painter and one of the founding members of the Bloomsbury Group. She experimented with abstraction and cubism in her art making her one of the most daring artists of her time. Her sister, Virginia Woolf, once described Bell’s work as ‘firm as marble, ravishing as a rainbow, and like sunlight crystallized.’ This description feels particularly relevant to The Vineyard which oozes sunlight, bold colour, and a modern style. I think there is a hint of playfulness in this painting, its abstraction knocks you off-kilter, but the beauty of its colours draws you in and includes you in its celebration of nature. Looking at The Vineyard I felt connected to both nature and art, it took me out of the coronavirus panic I’ve been wallowing in and gave me some much-needed hope.

Many of Bell’s paintings focused on the domestic and the everyday, through her art she celebrated and preserved the moments of mundane beauty such as the view from a kitchen window, or sunlight hitting the garden. The Vineyard encapsulates this joyful approach to the everyday and I think we can take some of its playfulness and use it to help us through these trying times.

Written by Shannon Benson, Manchester Metropolitan University 

Explore The Atkinson’s collection on ArtUK here.

Purchase selected print reproductions from The Atkinson’s collection on the Art UK Shop here.

Posted on 7 April 2020 under General news

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