Lionel Playford lives and works in the Cumbrian North Pennines among the moorlands and valleys which have inspired much of his landscape work of the last 21 years. Growing up in Leeds, Lionel first attended art college in Carlisle after ten years working in shipbuilding. He studied Fine Art at Northumbria University and completed his Masters in drawing and painting at Newcastle University in 1999. He recently completed research for an MPhil in art-science and geography at Northumbria University.
Lionel has been resident artist in many organisations. He was Natural England’s first resident artist and most recently held this post for the Alfred Wegener Institute aboard the research icebreaker Polarstern. He is a founder member of Alston Landscape Art Town Initiative and a member of Eden Valley Artistic Network. For many years, he was a visiting lecturer in painting at Newcastle and Sunderland universities and currently teaches drawing and painting at Higham Hall College in the Lake District and at his studio.
Lionel has work in public and private collections including The National Trust, Natural England and British Telecom. He has made site-specific work for the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, the Alfred Wegener Institute on Helgoland and AMEC Developments on Newcastle Quayside.
About the art
My studio practice is a response to the experience of landscape from walking, sketching and painting outdoors. I aim to transform the exultation of being out in the weather-world at all times of the day and year into some kind of visual poetry in the ‘cave’ of the studio.
This is an attempt to make the canvas surface magically come alive by meditating on a mood generated by colour and form which imply not only movement and space but an ineffable, noumenal quality, sometimes called spirit of place. The paintings that evolve are almost always linked to a place but are not literal topographic descriptions, more a conjuring up of something that the place speaks of but which is also universal and timeless.
Working from memory and imagination as well as from reference drawings and photographs, I’m interested in exploring what it is to be in nature as well as to inhabit or be alive and present in a place, a mode of understanding utterly unique to painting. For me, landscape is about the relationship between sky and land; we live and breathe in the atmosphere with only our feet on the ground.