The stark beauty of the Dungeness landscapes has attracted artists and writers for years. Here we talk to the owners of three galleries who live and work in this unique area today.
PADDY HAMILTON – DUNGENESS OPEN STUDIOS
Paddy describes his work as paintings, constructions, drawings and prints, using a wide range of materials. Working directly from his studios on the beach, he says “For me, this is the biggest place in Britain – the wide skies, the sea, the vast expanse of land. I never fail to be inspired by Dungeness” he says.
The process from creation to display evolves naturally across a group of four handmade, often recycled, buildings. One used to be an old winch house, sleeping five with no windows, one a chicken shed built in 1886, one a former shrimp, worm and bait shed, and one made entirely from leftover wood – a charmingly ramshackle collection!
The Laboratory is where it all begins, and you can often find the artist in residence, while the other three buildings display Paddy’s work, either for sale or before it goes on for exhibition elsewhere. He also hosts occasional shows of other artists’ work.
Dungeness Open Studios, Marina, Dungeness Road, Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 9ND
(on the corner opposite the old black lighthouse)
HELEN GILLILAN – OCEAN VIEW
Helen explores the sublime beauty of Dungeness through her paintings, describing the changes the extreme weather and sublime light evokes, both aesthetically and thematically.
“I’m fascinated by the reverberations from the past, reflecting the lives of the people who lived and worked on the beach at Dungeness, and the sculptural winches, sheds and boats which have been left to rest on the sea shore” she says.
As well as her evocative paintings and prints, Helen also works in textiles (following part of her career in theatre design), and offers a range of items made from vintage materials, including dolls, cushions, and perhaps inevitably these days, cotton and silk facemasks.
Ocean View, Dungeness Road, Romney Marsh, Dungeness TN29 9NE
DUNGENESS GALLERY – HELEN TAYLOR AND CHRIS SHORE
Working from three Edwardian railway carriages that found a new life as holiday homes on the beach at Dungeness in the 1920s, Helen Taylor and Chris Shore live and work as an artist (originals and prints) and a photographer respectively.
“The light, the huge skies, the openness, the wilderness and the feeling of being on a different continent, cut off from the rest of the world, are always an inspiration for us both” Helen says.
Helen works in all mediums except oil paints, and also uses lino cutting, and teaches in local art groups. As well as focussing on the beauty of her surroundings, Helen works on commission on subjects as diverse as people to pets and churches to motorbikes.
Unusually in this day and age, Chris works exclusively with film, rather than digital photography. With his own darkroom on site, his evocative style experiments with the moods of the landscape through both black and white and saturated colour.
Helen and Chris exhibit extensively in Kent, London and European galleries, and their work is found in the homes of collectors worldwide.
Dungeness Gallery, Caithness, Dungeness, Kent TN29 9ND