This month's Dorset Artist is Charlie Baird who has lived in Dorset for twenty years and has had five solo exhibitions at The Art Stable in Child Okeford. Thank you as always to Kelly from the Art Stable for sharing him with us. We look forward to learning more about Charlie and seeing his work in person.
The pieces that Charlie Baird produces are always tied to a sense of place, whether that be his native northern Scotland, Southern Spain, or Dorset, where Charlie has lived for more than twenty years. Drawing from a variety of sources, he uses different media to convey the atmosphere of a landscape or a situation, the distillation of a moment which weaves both figurative and abstract elements into one picture. Accidents, tangents, and the coincidental are important paths to new and fresh ideas in his paintings, as he describes: “only later will I focus on giving the image a more coherent key and it will either fall apart - they quite
often do! - or take on its own character and composition”.
Referencing memories of place, time, and light, they range from the figurative to a more abstracted sense of mood through texture and composition. When painting, he often starts with a reduced palette, enjoying “the use of colour near-opposites and the gradations of tone and colour that can occur in between”, using this to echo the oppositions and confluences in the observed subject. He paints with a great range of colour – a particularly English, sometimes muted palette – but with a warmth that shows a true understanding of light, for example, when he captures the glow of late summer.
Whether translating the fleeting light of a landscape or exploring the history beneath its surface, these pieces conjure up their own internalised lyrical balance. They are often complex, with layers of meaning, as with his painting Scratching the Surface, which “alludes both to some of the techniques used – scratching into paint and layering back on and also to some of the more abstract work which relates to the history of our landscape and the traces left by the past, fields, hedges, walls, buildings.”.
Baird’s creative process is marked by mutability – what starts out as a still life can elide into a landscape, and vice versa, moved by a spark of interest or a hook from within the work. Often leaving the pieces and coming back to them some time later, they can evolve, perhaps moved by inspiration or chance. Each time, he captures not the representation of a thing but its true character, an intrinsic and beguiling essence.