THEATRE-GOERS will be able to enjoy art with their interval drinks when a new exhibition showcasing Northumberland’s striking scenery opens next week.
Oil paintings by James Holland will be on display at the People’s Theatre from next Tuesday when Joseph Kesselring’s black comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, begins a week-long run.
The Lie Of The Land will feature landscapes around the River Coquet, Howick shoreline, Simonside, Pauperhaugh, Craster and Dunstanburgh, with evocative titles including Beech in Spring and Old Apple Trees.
The artist and photographer grew up in Longhoughton and went to school in Alnwick before studying art in Newcastle and London.
As a painter he works in a range of media and, besides his landscapes, he produces nudes and abstracts.
“When younger I was particularly interested in sculpture,” he says. “Now it is mostly painting and photography with some digital art also.
“I don’t know anyone who produces digital work quite like my own. I have worked in silverpoint, encaustic (hot wax painting), watercolour, tempera, gouache, oils, acrylics and pastels – just about everything except fresco.”
He adds: “My art is based on many years of continuous observation and study of nature, informed by a considerable awareness of the European landscape tradition.”
When planning a landscape, he often heads off on a bus going north with a rucksack of materials – and sometimes food – and studies the clouds and the light in spots which have a strong personal connection.
He heads for the places where he started painting as a schoolboy.
“The Rumbling Kern at Howick was one of my first subjects,” he says.
“Dunstanburgh is always fascinating for me and I think I have been able to say something original and well observed about it.
“But I never expected that years later I would also come to enjoy painting the textures and worn concrete of Craster harbour.”
He adds: “In the past couple of years I have been working at Pauperhaugh and I have also made some views towards the Simonside.
“The riotous colours of spring and the richness of autumn are extremely satisfying.
“One of my favourite sketches shows little more than the sky, the sea, some sand and a few clouds.”
But he’s experimenting more with people as subjects too. When he’s on the bus, he might sketch fellow passengers, for instance, or study groups of people out shopping.”
He says he’s always happy to learn.
This year he wants to “carry on improving my painting landscapes and make a better study of clouds”.
The Lie Of The Land will run at the People’s Theatre, Stephenson Road, Newcastle, from January 22 until February 22, from 6.30pm on play nights. Arsenic and Old Lace run there until January 26. For details of the full season visit www.peoplestheatre.co.uk