Square Series

Jonathan Sainsbury - Apples and Starlings

Image 13 of 13

Apples and starlings - Oil - 34 x 36 ins - Part of the Square Series, based on a poem by Laurie Lee called 'Apples', exhibitied at 'Birds in Art' at the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. Private collection.

Jonathan Sainsbury’s Square Series paintings have received widespread critical acclaim.  They have hung in the Aberdeen Artists’ Exhibition, the Royal Glasgow Institute, the Society of Wildlife Artists London, the Society of Animal Artists in the United States and ‘Birds in Art’ at the Woodson Art Gallery in the United States.

Jonathan sheds light on them: ‘These are not ‘naturalistic’ pictures, showing reality as it is, but deliberate arrangements in paint to make images that cameras cannot create.  With a circular composition of birds’ heads, the eye is led around the picture, to suggest movement.  Where a subject disappears off the paper, it hints at a fleeting encounter.’

Jonathan brought his concern for conservation into the series, showing two endangered creatures in one picture. ‘The interaction created another level of movement within the square in pictures like Hares and Corncrakes, or Bitterns and Water-voles,’ he explains.

‘Then I started to break up the picture surface into separate boxes.  In Apples, based on the poem by Laurie Lee with the same name,  I connected images from different stanzas of the poem through linking and separating squares within squares.’

‘The next development was to separate the picture surface into separate boxes, as if looking out through a window with separate panes of glass.  The watercolour and charcoal drawing of ‘Bumbarrels – Long-tailed tits – became an original oil painting painted on nine separate panels within one frame.’

A judge selecting pictures for the prestigious Society of Animal Artists’ annual exhibition, wrote about ‘Turkeys Square’ like this:

‘The handling of the medium is superb, but more importantly, there is ‘movement and behaviour’ and most striking is the composition.  The angle is somewhat down on the turkeys, and the artist allows part of the birds to go off the page – the tail at the top, and the wings at the bottom – which makes for a strong, dynamic, yet simple composition …’

Turkeys Square was selected and hung in the 2011 exhibition in Dennos Museum Centre, Traverse City Michigan, USA.  It was also shown in the Royal Scottish Watercolour Society exhibition.  Apples was bought for the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum.

Many of the Square Series are framed in hand-made, hand-gessoed frames, finished with 22 carat white gold, for a contemporary, classic look.