36" x 24" / 91cms x 61cms
Oil on canvas
In his eternal endeavour to reveal a landscape’s spirit; Webb is drawn again and again to the peat bogs of Connemara; in the far west of Ireland. In few other places is that spirit so strongly felt; where the direct touch of man is light and the vista is (almost) entirely earth and sky and water. Where nature’s base elements are so raw and pure; so distinctly alive; it is easy to hear the landscape’s voice and feel its emotion. No wonder that some of Webb’s students; treated to a rare fine day in a little-known isolated spot in that vast wilderness; huddle together for comfort. Exposure to the primitive can be intimidating; even frightening; and stories of horror and the supernatural abound in such places. But Webb thrives in this land; more alive by far when ankle-deep in peat and heathers and windswept by the salt- laden Atlantic gales; than in manmade civilisation.
The peat bog landscapes in this exhibition are proof of Webb’s success in unveiling that spirit; at least in part. He is convinced there remains more; much more; he has yet to be entrusted with. The distant mountains; presiding over the flat bogs and reflective pools; are kings of this land; but even they cannot rule the darkest depths of the pools.
The play of reflective light across the still surface of those pools reveals; then obscures; and reveals again the rich life below. The beautiful colours of the lilypads and flowers that float above; studding the dark like jewelled offerings; are matched in the depths by trailing; swirling lily stems; and glowing algae and unidentified organisms in blues and greens and pinks.
Raising your head from the fascinating theatre in the pools; there stretches ahead of you a geometry of angular lakes and raised rectangles of land between; contrasting against the sweeps and curves and peaks of the ancient untouched mountains in the near distance. Again; this dissimilitude draws Webb’s attention; but it is only when Nature reclaims her own that he is inspired to paint.
The pools are caused by a long history of successive cuts of peat from the land; manmade quarries and hollows that slowly but surely are filled with water seeping in from below; and caught from above; and turned near-black with minerals. These human-cut scars soften and colour as Nature heals the land and touches it with beauty once more.