Marine House at Beer opened nineteen years ago. Michael Morgan…
Alan Cotton’s work, like his life, is one of extreme contrasts
There are few painters who one day will be holding a pen, with numbed fingers, on the icy slopes of Mount Everest with temperature of minus 20 degrees and just weeks later sits amongst the vineyards in the searing heat of Piemonte, drawing and absorbing the rich colours and textures of the Autumn vines. “I need these contrasts to keep my work fresh and vibrant” says Alan, “and of course I love travelling to different parts of the world, getting to know the people, their cultures and the diversity of the landscape.”
Last year Alan was on the Isle of Skye and his London Exhibition at Messum’s, in the West End, had a number of paintings of this wild and beautiful part of Scotland, together with work from Hartland, Everest, Piemonte and Venice. When all the paintings for this year’s London exhibition were finished, Alan and his wife Tricia were about to fly out to Transylvania, when David Messum visited them. “Wouldn’t it be fantastic to include Transylvanian paintings in the exhibition” he said. Alan, who is always up for a challenge, agreed to send drawings back and on his return complete three paintings, in ten days, in time for the catalogue.
Transylvania had for some time been on Alan’s agenda to work and paint and he and Tricia travelled to Zalanpatak, where his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales has bought and restored a number of houses, to help develop tourism and so support sustainable farming methods in this remote part of Romania and Alan was privileged to stay in the Prince’s house. The village lies high in the hills, fourteen kilometers along rough unmade tracks “It was like going back two centuries Alan said. The fields are still cut with a scythe and the hayricks and old barns formed the basis of many of my drawings”. This studio exhibition features paintings of Transylvania.
On his return to Devon Alan and Tricia walked along the River Otter from Colaton Raleigh to Otterton. “It was a luminous evening”, he said “and the sunlight through the trees, dappled the water. The hayricks have long gone from our fields, but as I sat beside the river I knew that the Otter Valley still has much to offer me as a painter. Next time I walk the banks of the river, I shall have my drawing book under my arm.”