Meet artist Charles Newington, the creator of Folkestone's white horse
PUBLISHED: 20:38 20 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:30 20 February 2013
Charles Newington on his new series of sporting and athletic giants
Patterns of the past
Charles Newington, the creator of Folkestones white horse, on his new series of sporting and athletic giants
Charles Newingtons studio, a garden office, double-glazed and insulated, looking out onto the garden, is a wonderful mess, he tells me.
We are talking at the recently opened Grand Auctions Gallery in Folkestone, whose walls are adorned with Charles varied works.
It would have been good to be out on the hills, however, for Charles is also the creator of the iconic white horse on the slope up to Etchinghill, just outside Folkestone. Visible from the M20/A20, it is now also the logo for Shepway District Council.
Charles has had a long and varied career, which started with art training at the Byam Shaw School in Notting Hill Gate (now attached to Central St Martins). Here he did a Foundation Year and later moved on to study Graphic Art at Camberwell, which suited him because he is an upside down left hander and the technique involved in graphics this mattered less than spattering paintings.
He then went on to the Central School to study printmaking at postgraduate level under Norman Ackroyd, who was instrumental in later finding him part-time teaching work.
Charles was headhunted by Editions Alecto and got to work with all sorts of heroes from my student days. These heroes included Patrick Procktor, friend of David Hockney, whom he credits with having further taught him to loosen up. He recalls a memorable time in Venice, when he worked with Patrick who taught him watercolour painting.
Charles is now working on three streams of art. The first is a series called Sea Odyssey, and he shows me a wonderful semi-abstract Boatyard, created in hi-tech, which allows him to make great quality works of considerable subtlety. You will be able to see this series at his show at the Grand Auctions Gallery in July.
A second stream of work is the Khajuraho series, named after the temple in Central India. He has been working on these for a couple of years and a show will be presented at the Atlantis Book Shop Gallery, near Londons British Museum, where Charles also created an exhibition in 2009 on the Book of Revelations. This idea of working with the spiritual brings us to the third great stream, chalk-cut hill figures, which are on the drawing board. A series of sporting and athletic giants, the style in line with the white horse, they will be 30 metres high and visible from Erith..
The white horse on Ethchinghill Escarpment took a few years to realise. First a temporary maquette or mock up was put up - and taken down again after controversy.
After four years of battling and a final public inquiry, the image was etched onto the hillside and, following the initiative of Rory Love, was used as the Shepway logo.
After the discovery of a book picked up in a second-hand bookshop called Patterns of the Past, showing that important cathedrals and monuments such as Stonehenge had been created over watercourses, Charles took a dowser up to the hills and discovered that his horse was placed over some important springs. The horse was chosen because it was the Invicta symbol for Kent and an extension of a beast series he had been working on inspired by the cave drawings at Lascaux.
He started to create pastel works or sfumato, using candle smoke, to create bull and animal images on rough Nepalese hand-made paper, which gives wonderful texture.
The bull is a deeply mythical thing, it goes into the idea of the minotaur, but the cave paintings are even older. Its another mentality which well never tap into, he says.
Charles tells young students: Be bold and uncompromising, dont pander to commercial tastes and his own works are varied and fascinating, in different media and using new technology. An artist to be inspired by.
GET IN TOUCH
You can see an exhibition of Charles Newingtons works at the Grand Auction Galleries, 66 The Old High Street, Folkestone CT19 4RJ, where Charles is artist in residence. Call Jonathan Riley on 01303 220440 for more information.
Charles welcomes visitors to his studio by appointment, 01303 258910 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.