Carol Miller Reviewed

Carol Miller Reviewed

“Varied, thought provoking and a little bit sinister, ‘Before’ will definitely provide an enigmatic, yet engaging experience.” 

Carol Miller’s Before exhibition reviewed by John Baldwin

 

 

After having won Warrington Contemporary Arts Festival’s open visual art prize last year, with her oil painting ‘Before #1’, Carol Miller’s first solo arts exhibition ‘Before’ is now being held at The Gallery At Bank Quay House near Warrington Town Hall.

The title of the exhibition suggests recollection and reflection, and Miller cites childhood memories and experiences, especially from old photographs of her family and friends, as her major source of inspiration. The major themes that run through the work include the impact of loss and grief, and a number of individual pieces have been painted with the intention of appearing sinister and alarming.

The collection is successful in capturing this general sense of discord across many of the varied portrait and landscape paintings on show. This atmosphere is most effectively produced in the exhibition’s central series of representational portraits, which feature imposing images of distressed or depressed young girls, often with small animals, juxtaposed with the sprawling, rural landscapes that feature in the background. Although much of the work follows this pattern, the images are diverse enough in terms of colour, content and mood to remain completely engaging. The children depicted, for instance, vary in terms of their appearance, body language and clothing, although they share the same unsettling lack of recognisable eyes.

“Each new image in the series is able to express fresh ideas and experiences”

Despite the recurrent themes and characters present, each new image in the series is able to express fresh ideas and experiences. The most striking of these is Before 18 which presents a far more claustrophobic forest environment. The blood red leaves carpeting the forest floor and slender, skeletal trees that surround the distraught girl at the centre of the image made add to the air of menace.

The portrayal of rural setting is a strength throughout and this shows in the stand-alone landscapes that are included alongside the ‘Before’ series of paintings. Several of these beautifully painted landscapes are dominated by large, wide open skies littered with clouds and with less emphasis on the pastoral environments below. This gives them a different, more dreamy or spiritual quality compared to the majority of the work on show.

Coming away from the exhibition, I found certain images lingered in my mind. ‘Before’ is a puzzling collection of paintings and one that stirred a number of different feelings in a relatively short space of time. Varied, thought provoking and a little bit sinister, ‘Before’ will definitely provide an enigmatic, yet engaging experience.

The exhibition of Miller’s paintings is being held at The Gallery At Bank Quay House, which regularly showcases a range of shows and events by local and regional artists and runs until 20th September. Entrance is free.

 
 
 

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