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Individual artists with collective love of Devon's country and coast

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: March 23, 2013

  • Clockwise from top: Graham Fish, White Water; Barry Kelly, Gentle Sweep of Lulworth Cove; Michael Hill, In the Pink; John Ashton, Glossy Ibis and Egret

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The Devon Boys – Graham Fish, Andrew Miller, Barry Kelly, John Ashton and Michael Hill – are five outstanding artists who all share a love of the magnificent Devon countryside, and a passion for painting.

An exhibition celebrating their work – The Devon Boys – is on at The Brownston Gallery, Modbury, from March 29 to May 6.

From the wild moorlands of Dartmoor, with its towering tors and hidden hamlets, across lush farmlands and ancient hedgerows to the rugged coast, with its sweeping bays, craggy cliffs and roaring seas, their individual paintings each capture a particular natural essence, unique to this beautiful part of the world.

Graham Fish is recognised for his stunning seascapes. A surfer all his life, now in his 60s, he has a deep understanding of the constant power and energy of this natural force.

"I live by the sea, and my studio overlooks Bantham Bay. Every day is ruled by the sea's rhythm, its colour, depth and character," he says.

"The sea has got inside me and touched my emotions. I think I'm obsessed by it and that's working itself out in my paintings."

Andrew Miller was appointed official War Artist to the Royal Marines in 2011 and worked with them in Afghanistan. While there, he produced detailed sketchbooks, drawings and paintings to record the Marines in Camp Bastion, Task Force headquarters in Lashkar Gah and out in the forward operational bases and checkpoints.

Now back home in South Devon, he produces beautiful haunting paintings of the countryside and coast.

"I prefer to work out of doors in order to capture accurately the light and the changing moods of the elements, which vary dramatically from day to day, offering a constant source of fascination and new challenges to respond to," he says.

When Barry Kelly visits new and familiar places, he sketches, makes detailed notes (such as tide times, sea state, weather conditions and OS map references) and takes photographs that later influence a series of small works on paper before he produces larger paintings.

The dynamic shapes and the way that light plays across the land has always been a huge inspiration for his work. Barry's coastal paintings are inspired by the exciting lines, shapes and textures that he sees when walking the beautiful South Devon coastal path.

John Ashton is an accomplished wildlife artist who has been shortlisted three times for the David Shepherd Foundation Wildlife Artist of the Year Award.

He is particularly passionate about birds, especially those he finds on the estuaries and creeks near his home on the River Avon in South Devon. His oil paintings of birds and animals are painstakingly accurate, often with a quirky touch of humour reflecting the character of his subject.

Michael Hill studied Graphic Art and Design at Plymouth College of Art, working as a freelance illustrator before becoming a full-time painter. He is president of Plymouth Watercolour Society and holds workshops in watercolour and acrylic.

His rich coastal scenes and landscapes successfully capture the gentle and transient light of the Devon climate with its ever-changing reflections.

"My aim is to convey a sense of atmosphere, perhaps leaving passages of the paintings understated."

Contact The Brownston Gallery at 36 Church Street, Modbury on 01548 831338 or visit the website at www.thebrownstongallery.co.uk

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