Changes Start with... THE SPARK "at the heart of the alternative west country"

Abigail McDougall is a Bristol-based artist who takes inspiration for her current show at the Royal West of England Academy in Clifton from the Avon cycle path between Portishead and Bradford on Avon.

Invitation to art for sustainable transport art exhibition


“Art for Sustainable Transport”, which runs from 5th March until 6th April, is to raise money and awareness for the sustainable transport charity Sustrans.


“I've never driven a car. I never liked going in cars with my parents when I was young. I rebelled against the pressure from my parents to learn how to drive. The idea from the 1980s was that a car equals success, but I want to prove that wrong. People are looking for alternative ways to get about,” she says.


“The first time I went on the Bristol to Bath cycle path, I thought it was fantastic. The countryside is so easily accessible from Bristol. It is a great way to get out and get inspiration for painting. I saw the name Sustrans when I was out cycling and looked them up.”


Abigail will be donating 25% from the sale of original artworks to the charity, which is dedicated to improving means of transport, with a focus on building and maintaining cycle routes all over the UK and educating and helping people get around more easily.


“I like urban scenes like Bristol and Bath, especially unusual buildings and people. I also enjoy countryside scenes as well, but the technique I use works better with streets and people. I like elements with town and water, like the centre of Bradford on Avon,” Abigail says.


Abigail’s university dissertation was on whether art should have a social function. “I was going to go either into art or environmentalism, so this is a good way to do both.”


“Art for Sustainable Transport” is Abigail’s second solo show. Her first was also at the Royal West of England Academy, entitled “The Four Ages of Bristol”, which portrayed the city in four different colour schemes all with a green theme. The Golden Age depicted a Clifton mansion; the Industrial Age, a view of the harbourside; the Space Age, a view of Cabot Circus; ending with the Green Age, or hope for Bristol's future, which depicted the eco-village in St. Werburgh's with a train passing in the background.


“When I look at a view, colour and light are really important to me. I have to see something in a different way. It helps if it is sunny as you get nice shadows and colour schemes, but once in Portishead in the rain I saw good contrasts between the mud flats and the boats: I made the mud a lot redder and upped the saturation.


“My interest in art comes from when I was growing up and my parents owned paintings by Jane Corselis. I normally work with watercolours, but they are normally wishy washy and don't have deep colours, but artists like Paul Klee and August Mack were successful at creating deep colours. These influences combine to make something quite new and contemporary, realist yet abstracted in a way.”


Abigail will be running a half-day workshop on watercolours on Sunday 20th March between 2 and 5pm at the academy at a cost of £30 per person. Abigail ran her first such workshop in July at the Prema Art Centre in Uley.


Abigail works at the Jamaica Street studios, where the artists are currently trying to raise money to make sure it stays as a studio.


"Art for Sustainable Transport" at the Royal West of England Academy, Queen's Road, Clifton, runs from 5th March to 6th April. There is a preview evening on Thursday, 10th March, from 6 to 9pm. Please e-mail if you’d like to attend.


The watercolour workshop takes place at the gallery on Sunday, 20th March, from 2-5pm. Contact the gallery on 0117 973 5129 to book.

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