RE: Gemma Waters
The natural world is woven into every aspect of my life and I have been immersed in the world of living things since my childhood. Nature sparks my curiosity, inspires me with its colours, movement and textures. Nature shows us resilience and strength but is at the same time precious and fragile.
Spending time in the landscape and amongst wildlife is a basic need for me and strongly feeds into my artistic practice. I try to convey my connection and love of nature through my paintings; trying to capture beauty, illuminate colour and portrait complexity. When I complete work outside, changing conditions in the landscape due to light and weather, the beings that inhabit it, all feed into the work.
There are absences in the places I walk, observe and draw. Fields, woodland and rivers that were once filled with bird song, paws scampering, the glimmer of an insect wing. I seek out the places where precious life hangs on and then creating my own image of it. A statement of hope for life, not extinction.
Both the subject of butterflies and the idea of painting them on fans came from inspiration gathered in the Collections Room. The drawers filled with butterfly and moth specimens tapped into my innate interest in these creatures. Painting on the fans helped me to represent the beauty and fragility of these animals; as an object, fans are both these things. I also liked the idea that the fans can open and close, like a butterflies wings, revealing colour and pattern.
Since those butterflies were caught we have seen steep declines in their populations, but here in the Stroud Valleys were are so fortunate to have habitats that support some precious gems of British butterflies. The Large Blue and Duke of Burgundy butterflies are such rare butterflies, hanging on to existence on our doorstep and only with help from charities such as the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the National Trust. I also wanted to celebrate the common species; though not so common now, the Brimstone, Comma and Orange Tip butterflies can still be seen in gardens and hedgerows, heralding in the Spring.