Simon Parkin is a painter who has inhabited many landscapes, from the hills that surround Glossop to the very different terrain of North Africa or India. Although his work bears many traces of these different encounters, Simon’s focus returns repeatedly to the high places of the Peak District, one of the last pockets of wilderness still remaining in England. These are hills that the artist has known all his life, yet transformed into paint it is as if they are seen for the first time. What may appear familiar can hold surprises for both artist and viewer alike with the fresh vision of every new encounter.
The richly textured surface of these paintings also reminds us that landscape exists not just in space but in time, and time takes different forms. Emotion and experience conjoin in the fluid currents of memory; these paintings speak of a deep, intuitive relationship with place. Yet they also dispassionately suggest the linear flow of human history that has left its trace on the land: the dry stone walls that both contain and follow the contours of the hills, or the ancient trackways that traverse them. Beneath this beats the slow pulse of geological time, the great forces that forged the gritstone of the Dark Peak and that continue still. The tiny pebbles and other found objects worked into the surface of many of these paintings hold a memory of these deep unspoken rhythms. But they are also talismans of the artist’s presence within the landscape, watching, absorbing, being.