ENGLISH ROSE WITH A TOMBOY STREAK, ADVENTUROUS TRAVELLER, HAPPIEST PAINTING IN THE OPEN AIR
She writes of her personal vision: ‘I adore the outside world and the relationships within it, between man and animal, plant and soil, sky and earth. My paintings reflect my love of nature and attempt to document the environment, its life and culture - so we always have a piece of it.’
‘I am enthralled by it all, the big and the small, from butterflies emerging from the chrysalis, the fungus on a fallen tree, to the formation of glacial valleys and mega cloud formations.’
She has been a traveller since a first family visit to Kenya as a child, a gap year in Botswana and South Africa, a long sojourn in Uganda and Kenya. ‘The African bug stuck. I worked in the Masai Mara for a riding safari, filmed wildlife documentaries in Tsavo for the BBC.’
As a professional artist since 2016 she was captivated by tea plantations in Sri Lanka, Namibian sunsets, Normandy beaches, Cornish clifftops, and the Irish racing scene.
This year of lockdown, unable to make a planned escape to Pakistan and Sri Lanka in pursuit of colour and crowds, Clementine was confined to the gardens of a newly built country house in North Yorkshire.
Landscape architect Alastair Baldwin began his transformation of a barren wasteland in 2013 The house sits at the top of a huge cascade following the arc of a lake, with sweeps of grasses, perennials and bulbs fanning out from each side. He calls it a ‘planned riot of colour and pattern’. .
Clementine painted ‘manically’ through long weeks of lockdown, seizing effects of light through the day and evening on a profusion of flowers. Some sold immediately. .
A field of daffodils sprang up in March, replaced by cow parsley and wild flowers then came tulips, rhododendrons, bluebells and foxgloves.
.During this time she produced some of her most luminous work. Alistair Baldwin writes: ‘ Clem has recorded the precise shade of blue of the sky on a clear sharp fresh spring day, and its juxtaposing with apple blossom pink and daff gold is pure April magic.’.
CLEMENTINE ST JOHN WEBSTER – BACKGROUND
Clementine St John Webster (born 1989) spent a ‘feral and free’ childhood in the countryside of Wiltshire and Somerset. She was the youngest of four, hunting and racing around, with ‘picnics on horseback.’
’ The world I grew up in has been full of horses (and other animals) and the hustle and bustle, sounds and smells that surround them and huge variety of colourful scenes they create. They have been a thread running throughout my life. I love painting all the different environments they appear in, and the wide variety of human relationships they create, from foals in a sales ring to Indian palace horses, to the Household Cavalry drum horses.’
After a formal education at Cheltenham College and St Hilda’s, Oxford University, concentrating on art, maths and sciences, she studied classical painting and drawing at the London Fine Art Atelier from 2014 to 2016. She became a full time professional in 2016. All paintings were sold at her first solo show, at the Osborne Studio Gallery, in 2018.
UNIQUE ASPECT OF CLEMENTINE ST JOHN WEBSTER’S ART, COMMITMENT TO PLEIN AIR PAINTING
In homage to the genius of outdoor painting, Claude Monet, Clementine spent a few days this August painting views of cliffs at Hautot sur Mer in Normandy. In the 1880s Monet enjoyed painting here to enjoy the new freedom of paint in tubes.
‘I have over the years learnt to compact my kit to capture any hill or manic street scene. My rucksack has many an added strap. Through trial and error I acquired the lightest and strongest tripod. I choose a box from my collection to secure a wet painting for the journey home, leaving hands free to clamber over rocks or navigate the Underground.
‘There is nothing I love more than pushing through the undergrowth , walking for miles to find a view, a landscape or scene, then working at speed before the light goes.’
ABOUT MY EXHIBITION
No theme other than my love of the wild, the outdoors. Paintings include landscapes, seascapes, garden scenes, horses on their own, horses on the moors, racing scenes.
Clementine St John Webster is on at the Osborne Studio Gallery, London from September 30th to 17th October 2020.