CORRINA Rothwell’s abstract work Subterranea Nostalgia is the largest ever painting to be exhibited at Pyramid Gallery in curator Terry Brett’s near-30 years in York.
“It measures 1600mm by 1600mm. That was fun, getting it upstairs!” says Terry, whose gallery is housed in a National Trust-owned 15th century building in Stonegate. “The painting has a real impact. If you know anyone with REALLY big walls, it would be perfect for them!”
Nottingham artist Corrina favours mixed media and acrylic on canvas for the abstract paintings assembled under the title of The Cacophony Of Ages, both on the first floor and stairs at Pyramid and online until July 1.
In her words, Corrina’s works are “expressive, evocative abstract landscape paintings with a sense of yearning, balancing chaos with order, light with dark, the hidden with the visible, history with modernity and beauty with decay”.
“Corrina has been practising art for more than 25 years,” says Terry. “Brought up by artist parents, she worked in digital illustration and design and before that she was a textile artist, selling machine-embroidered artworks.
“That explains the dress patterns that appear in her artwork, juxtaposed with industrial and derelict buildings from her childhood growing up in Lancashire and then Nottingham.
“These dramatic, bold paintings with handwriting, dress patterns, urban photos and the occasional splash of gold leaf would be perfect for any space.”
Corrina has been an artist for most of her adult life. “An aborted attempt at academia saw me leaving my European Studies degree in my second year at Hull University in 1989, and I never did get round to doing an art qualification,” she says.
“However, I was raised by artist parents, so art was pretty much instilled in me from a very early age. Until recently, I was working as a digital illustrator, designing and publishing my own successful greeting cards range. Before this, I practised for 14 years as a textile artist, exhibiting and selling machine-embroidered artworks nationally and internationally.”
Corrina has always loved using paint. “I’ve dipped and out of it over the years, but never pursued it with any consistency, but I believe now that painting is my true calling,” she says.
“I feel more at home and more myself creatively than I have done for a long time. Ultimately, I’m a ‘hands on’ kind of artist, and while I enjoyed digital illustration, the desire to get my hands dirty was too great to ignore in the end.”
Over the past few years, her work has evolved rapidly as she figured out what she wanted to say as a painter. “Initially I was essentially painting illustrations, which didn’t work,” she says. “I moved away from figurative work and began focusing on abstract shape and colour, which felt quite uncomfortable and alien to me, having always worked with a narrative.
“Still, I continued to trust my intuition and gradually became more at ease with producing artwork without a story. Ultimately, however, that lack of narrative has proved itself to be something – subconsciously – I couldn’t ignore.”
So much so, without intent, buildings have started to appear in Corrina’s work. “I say without intent because I didn’t plan to use them. I just answered an urge to put them there,” she explains.
“I’m particularly drawn to old factories and urban industrial landscapes and, given that I grew up in the cotton-mill county of Lancashire, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where this attraction comes from.
“I’m becoming more involved in this concept of history and narrative, which has emerged out of my subconscious and into my artwork, and it’s leading to paintings which I feel good about in my soul, which satisfy me on a deep level. It’s a rich seam to mine, and the exciting thing is that I’ve only just begun!”
Don’t forget, Corrina’s “contemporary, nostalgic and thought provoking” paintings in The Cacophony Of Ages can be viewed online too at pyramidgallery.com .
“This exciting collection flows beautifully both online and at the gallery,” says Terry. “It’s such a formidable show.”
Pyramid Gallery is open Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm; Saturdays, 10am to 5.30pm; Sundays, 12.30m to 4.30pm, but first text Tery Brett on 07805 029 254 to check a specific Sunday opening.