Dynamic landscapes constructed out of blocks of colour, textures of paint and numerous gestures, accents and modulations; these are the means by which Heather Duncan expresses a highly personal view of her environment. Places take on a remarkable importance, in particular the rugged northern landscape of vast Pennine moorland, striking fells and crags, monumental castles, and expansive coastlines.
Duncan knows these locations intimately; they are her childhood and spiritual home and are profoundly connected to her artistic activity. This deeply felt association to these specific places directs her back to them time and time again, even when she is far from ‘home’ there is a calling that leads her to “return to these fells and crags daily, painting them as I feel them, as I remember them”.
Words sometimes appear incised into paint, lines from a song or poem for example, hinting at another level of connection, raising the possibility that the landscape has become a receptacle for a personal narrative.
Ideas might germinate over a period of time, perhaps years, before they become paintings, but also there are works that have come about as an immediate direct response. Sometimes it is the memory of a relatively brief experience, a moment of light, of thought, of spirit, that surfaces as a subject, at other times the landscape is an expression of a more extended journey or passage of time.
Traces of reworking, areas flooded with colour, animated marks scratched into wet paint, these paintings optimistically revel in their own physicality. Within the bold expressive colour, robust texture, and energetic line, echoes of moorland walls and paths emerge, spaces seem to rise and tumble, horizons shift euphorically, land becomes liquefied, and the sensation of moving through the landscape, energetically, excitedly, softly or pensively is evoked.
Thrilling, stirring and enthusiastic these paintings wholeheartedly affirm one of the most profound of all human characteristics, the sense of belonging.
Born in Yorkshire Duncan studied Landscape Architecture at Leeds Metropolitan University, graduating in 1988. In 1998 she moved to the US where she lived for two years. Drawn back home by her love of the landscapes of the North of England she began her career as an artist, exhibiting in the North and Midlands. By 2009 her work was reaching a national audience with exhibitions in London and placements in private collections in the UK, France, Germany, and the USA.