My drawings and paintings of the sea and water are produced through a combination of observation and improvisation. I observe the fractal, chaotic structures and wave patterns of a consistently changing substance, and the effects of energy, scale, light and shadow. I improvise through the painting and drawing processes and make formal visual decisions throughout the duration of the making of the image, referencing the figurative and the abstract, allowing the image to either document or deconstruct perspectives and representations.
The sea can be passive, invigorating, intrusive; it can rest on the surface or rage against the rocks. The shore can be a place to escape to, to dream and find moments of peace. It can offer great vistas or tiny secretive details of elemental activity. The sea can divide or connect people and places.
Symbolically the shore and sea environments can be poetic, metaphorical, political, historical, emotional; full and void, timeless yet completely unique moment to moment.
I develop the images through a combination of processes – by spending time walking and watching on the shore, or from boats; absorbing atmosphere and effects of light and pattern, collecting memories; by sketching and photographing; and by working in the studio. I use a variety of materials (acrylics, pastels, oils, charcoal, pencil, various surfaces). Each medium has its own qualities, possibilities and limitations. I use various techniques and tools and also combine these, allowing control and chance to shape the outcomes. Each image is new and initially unknown – I have ideas and objectives, but each work develops a life of its own and this will inform the finished piece. I often work rapidly overall, and can become absorbed in details.
My formal training in the late 1980s was in graphic design, technical drawing and illustration (pre-computers), and I also worked with photography, film and sound. In 2003 I restudied graphic design and multimedia, focussing on computer-aided design, art and web coding. This study allowed me to learn and develop various techniques and skills, but in truth I have always been interested in image making as a fine art practice, so undertook a Masters in Fine Art in 2011. My primary practice since then has been drawing and painting, and this is something I will continue to develop and study.
For me, making art has always been about a certain unique freedom, a way to try to understand and document life and experience, a brief breaking wave that comes and goes.
Duncan Hopkins, Bideford, North Devon, UK. 06/2018
“In primordial perception, Merleau-Ponty writes, subject and object, noesis and noema, are blurred to the point of disappearing into one sole “intentional fabric,” namely, the “flesh of the sensible.” Rather than claiming that the body extracts the emotional essence of things, we should instead speak of a single reverberation out of which perception, gesture, painting, and speaking emerge.”
Ted Toadvine, ‘Singing the World in a New Key’. 2004
2011, MA Fine Art: Contemporary Practice, University College Falmouth, Cornwall.
2003, HNC Multimedia & Graphic Design, Strode College, Street, Somerset.
1991, BA Graphic Design, Faculty of Art & Design, Bristol Polytechnic, Somerset.
Works available to view and purchase at:
The Square Studio, 2 The Square, Northam, Bideford, Devon EX39 1AR
1988 – 2018
Please see the full exhibition listings for details and links.
Assorted Group and Solo exhibitions in Somerset, Devon, Cornwall and London.
Awards, Prizes + Shorlists
Longlist: Jackson’s Open Painting Prize 2018
Longlist: Royal Society of Marine Artists Open 2015
Shortlist: The Plough Open Drawing Competition 2014
Longlist: Royal Society of Marine Artists Open 2014
Longlist: The Threadneedle Prize 2014
Shortlist: Evolver Prize 2014
3rd Prize: Plough Drawing Competition 2013
Shortlist: Door Prize For Painting 2012
2011, 60 wrd/min art critic – Lori Waxman review of work (performance), The Exchange, Penzance, Cornwall
Works held in Private Collections in UK, Europe, Canada & USA.
‘Flesh Of The Sensible: Painting, Shamanism, Perception & Phenomenology’, MAFA Dissertation, UCF, Cornwall, 2011
2012, ‘New Visions: contemporary painting in uncertain worlds’, Cornwall
2011, MA Fine Art Show, UCF, Cornwall
2011, ‘Infinity Landscapes’, Falmouth, Cornwall
2012, ‘4 Weeks 33 Hours’, CMR, Cornwall
8/2009-Present, Web admin, committee, event organiser: Bideford Bay Creatives, Bideford
06/2012-12/2012, Volunteer (Members Desk / Gallery Attendant), Tate St. Ives, Cornwall
10/2011-12/2012, Co-founder / Co-director, CMR Gallery + Art Space, Redruth, Cornwall
2002–2003, Publicity Officer: Linux User Group Of Glastonbury (LUGOG), Somerset
2001-2003, Group Rep Year 1 & 2: HND / HNC Multimedia & Graphic Design
01-10/1998, Co-ordinator for Exhibitions: ‘Isle Of Glass Artist’s Collective’, Glastonbury, Somerset