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James Hawkins - Chronicles of the Straight Line Ramblers Club

22nd March 2009

James Hawkins will be exhibiting new paintings at the SW1 Gallery during the first week in May. This is his first major exhibition in London for six years; several of his short videos exploring abstract details of nature will also be shown.

Catch by the eye save in the heart

The exhibition will feature Hawkins’ work based on the wild and beautiful landscape of the Northwest coast of Scotland with a special emphasis on Knoydart. It is 10 years since the formation of the Knoydart Foundation and their Community buyout; the exhibition, part of which will later travel to the Knoydart peninsular, features in the Foundation’s yearlong festivities.

The John Muir Trust who helped finance the Knoydart project and work to protect wilderness areas in Scotland are also supporting the exhibition with a talk by their outgoing Chief Executive. The intention is to celebrate these remote places and to raise awareness of their need for protection and sustainable management.

Hawkins, “Today, in a world threatened by climate change, unspoiled wilderness seems to be of more importance than ever, we must guard and cherish these shrinking places. We have always been controlled by Nature, now we think that we can control it. John Muir; whose writings I have discovered during the research for this exhibition, felt that we all need the experience of wilderness. Muir writes, ‘Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike’ ” .

“The Straight Line Ramblers Club was first conceived when we were teenagers walking our parents’ dogs around the Oxfordshire countryside, membership was flexible, anyone could join and of course the one thing we didn’t do was walk in a straight line. Many of us have kept in touch and when we meet up that spirit of adventure still prevails, there aren’t any rules but if there were, they would be that spontaneity is all, planned routes exist to be changed on a whim and that it’s very important to see what’s around the next corner or over the next hill.”

The Chronicles exhibition features condensed visual experiences from these walks that capture the essence of each particular day and the landscape travelled. “These paintings are not a frozen moment but a synthesis of the many aspects of the journey – drifting clouds and light that momentarily confuse distance and space … the changing scale that makes a tree no bigger than a flower … a path winding toward a distant summit like an assault on Everest.”

Exhibition runs from 4th – 9th May 2009

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