artrepublic favourite Dave White is back with ‘Albion’, his highly anticipated latest body of work, which explores the heritage and iconography of native species to Britain, in the artist’s signature dynamic style. For his latest paintings White has cast his eye on familiar shores and is encouraging the viewer to reconnect with the indigenous wildlife that is dwindling in numbers on these isles.
He presents oversized imagery in oils and watercolour, brilliantly capturing the movement and spontaneous nature of the natural world. White’s paintings incorporate creatures that act as both predator and prey, creating a brilliant sense of tension between the portraits.
The work in ‘Albion’ is the polar opposite of White previous series ‘Apex’, which depicted the elegance and power of the much-maligned great white shark. The new show comprises a combination of familiar and less well-known creatures demonstrating the wide breadth of wildlife that inhabit our countryside. Rarely spotted animals including a Scottish wildcat, Peregrine falcon and endangered red squirrel are all represented in White’s instinctive and dynamic portraits.We caught up with Dave at the opening of ‘Albion’ at Loughran Gallery and he very kind answered a few questions for us about the new collection.
What made you decide to focus your attention on British native wildlife after exploring the exotic and unusual creatures in the previous series ‘Aquatics’ and ‘Apex?
For me it’s been a logical progressing of seeing beautiful things. I moved down to Dorset nearly three years ago and I’m honoured and privileged that I see a lot of this stuff everyday; it’s on your doorstep. Pretty much the same as the ‘Natural Selection’ show I did with artrepublic, I was really interesting in focusing on things that were critically endangered. The more I started looking into natural wildlife in the UK I began unveiling some pretty horrific statistics that I couldn’t believe. One of them being that hedgehogs are apparently going to be extinct in the UK in the next thirty years. A large portion of the animals in this show are on the critical or endangered list in UK. The dormouse, red squirrels and otters are all animals I grew up with as kid. I really wanted to focus on the beauty in these kinds of things. People totally forget that in this country we inhabit the place with these animals. I wanted to produce a whole show based on these creatures, making them larger than life and getting peoples attention with them.
What is the significance of the title ‘Albion’ and what does it mean for you?
Albion is a very old world for Britain and it resonates with me as it describes something in the past. The show presents things that are alive today and part of our existence in the UK with a retrospective title.
What kind of impact do you want to have on the viewers of ‘Albion’ and what would you say is the message behind the work?
Each painting in the show is very different, the most important thing for me was to capture the movement, character, dynamism, plumage, fur; the things that make up the animal. The danger in the fine line is that they don’t become twee, with no disrespect to anyone who uses wildlife as form of art to explore. So if you’re sitting 10 feet away you can clearly see what it is but when you get up close it’s almost like an abstraction, with the way the paint is applied. I want people to look at these works and just see the beauty in what is over here and be inspired to do something or just have a second though as to what is going on. As a body of work I can see a direction of where things are going to go over the next 5 years.
You work in oil and watercolour paint, two very contrasting media, is it predetermined which one you will use for a portrait?
It’s a totally organic thing. When I do an oil painting the colour and pallets are premixed so I’m not just jumping into something cold. I have to have everything available to me because of the way I work it has to be spontaneous. I can’t break from painting and start mixing colours. I always paint to music, it’s very important to me, whether its 90s hip-hop, vintage jungle or dubstep it doesn’t matter what it is.
You mentioned you live in Dorset now, how have your surroundings affected your work for Albion?
It’s had a massive influence. Don’t get me wrong I love cities; I’m in London all the time. I love the energy and vibrancy of big cities. I definitely think there’s a tranquillity and peace in the countryside. Most of the birds in the show I see everyday or on a seasonal basis.
Finally tell us the story behind the beautiful E-type Jaguar car that you have painted...
A collector of my work who also collects vintage cars got in touch and asked if I’d like to paint on his series one E-type, which had been fully restored. I obviously accepted, delight to do it then some interesting things happened. You can’t use oil paints on it so they sent me specially bespoke chemical enamels. They had spent 300 hours just painting the car white. I wanted to do something that was beautiful and graceful that didn’t dominate the car, something that shows speed and freedom, which represented what the car was about.
Follow the link to see all of the Dave White prints we currently have available and watch this space for exciting new releases from the artist.