You are in for a treat if you visit artist Mark Fairnington’s installation at the Out of Place exhibition currently on at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University. Original drawings by acclaimed local wood engraver, artist, naturalist Thomas Bewick (1753-1828) have been loaned for the exhibition.
In 2018, Mark was based at Cherryburn, the birthplace of Thomas Bewick, working on his Walking, Looking and Telling Tales commission for the Mapping Contemporary Art in the Heritage Experience research project. Immersing himself in Bewick’s world he visited the Natural History Society of Northumbria’s Bewick Archive in the library of the Great North Museum: Hancock and chose a small selection of original pencil drawings to use as a source of inspiration for his new contemporary art works. They included a pencil transfer drawing of a cuckoo, a sketch of a dog standing on a ladder stile and ‘The ferry waiting for the coffin’, a poignant reference to Bewick’s thoughts on his impending death.
Mark produced a series of miniature paintings which were successfully exhibited in the birthplace bedroom at Cherryburn last year. This wall has been faithfully reproduced in the Hatton exhibition and hung with Mark’s colourful art works inspired by Bewick’s drawings and the landscape he grew up in.
Alongside the wall, skilfully displayed in a purpose built sloping case, are the twenty-two pencil sketches and watercolour drawings from the Natural History Society’s Bewick Collection. The drawings, which date from 1789, are rarely exhibited due to their age, and the restrictions imposed by their fragility so this is a wonderful opportunity to see them.
The exhibition is open until Saturday 10 August 2019