Red earth under my nails

Striking new art exhibition open now at Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton

Artist Frances Hatch is renowned for painting outside entirely in situ, using local earth and other materials she finds in the locations. For her new exhibition ‘Red earth under my nails’, Frances, who describes her work as: “Geology becomes my pigment”, has painted in many locations across Dorset and Devon, including Ladram Bay and the esplanade in Sidmouth.

A South West artist, based in Bridport, Frances Hatch was the winner of the THG Open 2016 competition. She was also awarded the Shenzhen International Watercolour Biennial Prize by The Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours 2016.

She has also contributed to Drawing and Painting: Materials and Techniques for Contemporary Artists, Thames and Hudson, UK. February 2015 and is a senior tutor at West Dean College.

Frances explains: “The exhibition title really came about because when I end a day with earth under my nails, my hands have been at work in the way they like best and I get great pleasure when it is difficult to get it all off. My practice is literally hands-on. Of course, in Devon there is a good deal of ancient red earth.

“As I’ve researched for this show, I’ve been also getting to know the warm, subtle variety of palettes in locations like Fremington Quay, Dartmoor, Westward Ho! and Abbotsham. And I have particularly enjoyed sourcing and working with the intensity of Bideford Black earth.

“While working, I pause to consider the age and the natural processes involved in the formation of the pigments I use.”

Angela Blackwell, who is curator at THG, is a big fan of Frances’ work:

“We loved her work in the THG Open 2016 and the Royal Academy Summer Show in London. It is not often we get the opportunity to feature the work of an artist who paints entirely outside, as this type of artist is becoming increasingly rare.”

“Frances is thoroughly involved with the exhibition and I am particularly thrilled that she was available to offer our visitors a talk about her work. They found it really insightful and enjoyed the chance to learn more about her practice in relation to the work in the exhibition.”

THG’s Marketing/Fundraising Officer Fiona Page-Turner is delighted with the public’s response to the exhibition so far:

“The visitor feedback for the exhibition has been fantastic. Our first workshop and the Frances’ talk both sold out completely, so due to popular demand we have added in an extra art activity.

“On Friday 27 October, Frances will be leading an art trip to Ladram Bay to ‘draw with what the landscape provides’. Everyone will sketch as they walk, discovering the different earths at Ladram Bay and learn how to incorporate them into their artworks.

“The exhibition runs up until Saturday 28 October, culminating in our hugely popular Halloween Party in the evening to celebrate the national Museums at night festival. Visitors will be able to enjoy spooky art activities, wood-fired pizzas, Caribbean food, a bar, music and even get up close to lizards, spiders and snakes. The event will also be the very last chance you can see this acclaimed exhibition.”

Red Earth Under My Nails (runs until 28 October 2017) Open Tuesday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm. Free admission. Ladram Bay Art Trip: Friday 27 October, 10-4. £55 (£45 THG Friends) Halloween Party: Saturday 28 October 5-9pm (art activities till 8). Free admission and activities, pay bar and food.