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Artist Chris Rigby's exploration of the Surrey Hills

PUBLISHED: 16:51 03 November 2011 | UPDATED: 20:13 20 February 2013

Artist Chris Rigby's exploration of the Surrey Hills

Artist Chris Rigby's exploration of the Surrey Hills

While Lonely Planet may continue to describe Surrey as 'dull and uninspiring', one Cumbrian artist thought rather differently and set about an exploration of the Surrey Hills.

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine October 2011

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While Lonely Planet may continue to describe Surrey as dull and uninspiring, one Cumbrian artist thought rather differently and set about an exploration of the Surrey Hills.

My approach is to immerse myself in the place completely, says Chris Rigby, 43, who will be exhibiting the results of the project at the Advocate Gallery in Ashtead this month. In the case of my time in Surrey, this meant days of wandering under relentless sunshine.

A figurative painter with a strong interest in abstract, Chris was inspired to start painting as a student after seeing a work by Joseph Wright of Derby in the National Gallery, and quickly got hooked on the techniques of the Old Masters.

When Im painting, I am trying to get to the essence of the subject, he says. Through painting on the spot, I am building up a memory of the place and of my time there. This is easier to achieve outside, so while it can feel hard core getting your kit out in the hills, in many ways it is easier than being in the comfort zone of the studio.

Outside is where all his best thoughts come from, he adds, often painting in all conditions (where it is possible to hold his stuff together and keep it relatively dry!).

I will throw myself into the physical act of painting even when I dont really know what it is Im looking at, laughs Chris. I will often get back from a walk feeling that I havent seen anything worth taking on to the next stage, only to flick through my sketch pad and then see a whole host of potential.

  • Chris Rigbys work, An Exploration of the Surrey Hills, can be seen at the Advocate Gallery, 56 The Street, Ashtead KT21 1AZ from Friday September 16. Tel: 01372 274 068

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