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Suffolk artist Pippa Darbyshire's Home exhibition

Beach Cabins by Pippa Darbyshire.
Beach Cabins by Pippa Darbyshire.

Home is the title of a long awaited homecoming exhibition by artist Pippa Darbyshire, who has returned to Suffolk after living in France with her husband, Peter, where for the past 20 years they ran an art gallery and tea house in La Baie de Somme.

The exhibition of recent paintings is at Orwells Furniture showroom in Ipswich, where Pippa started her career as an artist, working part time for 10 years as a specialist decorator. After a first career in clasicall ballet, at the age of 40, Pippa did an art foundation course at Ipswich Art School, followed by a fine art degree at Norwich Art School. Success came immediately; she exhibited all over Suffolk, especially at the Taplin Gallery in Woodbridge, and in London, but her first major solo exhibition was in Ipswich at the Artists Gallery in Electric House.

In 1992, Pippa opened a public studio in Felixstowe with a small private art school, and worked part-time at Suffolk College teaching drawing on the degree course under artist Ken Back, her revered tutor and mentor. It was at this time that she and Peter, and their son Matthew – a student at the Royal Academy of Arts – worked part time at Orwells Furniture painting hand-built kitchens. Pippa used her creative talents for special effects, trompe l’oeil and murals.

Great British Life: Pippa Darbyshire in her studio. Photo: Pippa DarbyshirePippa Darbyshire in her studio. Photo: Pippa Darbyshire

'It was incredibly hard work, but such fun working for Gill (Williams), who was so upbeat and always encouraging and appreciative of what we did. It was also a great platform for selling paintings to the kitchen customers, who I got on with very well after spending weeks in their kitchens.'

Gill, a director of Orwells Furniture, explains that after seeing Pippa's last exhibition in France, she and fellow director Matt Weiner invited her to stage one in the Ipswich showroom 'to entice her back to Suffolk'.

'We've followed her artistic journey from the beginning, going to her shows and buying paintings,' says Gill, 'so it completes the circle for her to return to us where she worked before moving to away to France. She is still remembered by many of our clients who are looking forward to her seeing her and her new work.'

Great British Life: La Baie de Somme 18 October 2018 by Pippa DarbyshireLa Baie de Somme 18 October 2018 by Pippa Darbyshire

Pippa’s paintings are recognisable for their calmness, composure, and conviction. 'I paint mainly seascapes, but also any subject or view that attracts me compositionally. My paintings are figurative and minimal. I work in oils using a very limited palette, which renders the paintings almost monochromatic and near abstraction.'

She shares her time between her new studio in Margate and her studio in France. 'I'm very lucky to be able to paint the sea from both sides of the channel,' she says. She works in the traditional manner, from sketches made en plein aire, and also from photos.

Home is the title of a long awaited homecoming exhibition by artist Pippa Darbyshire, who has returned to Suffolk after living in France with her husband, Peter, where for the past 20 years they ran an art gallery and tea house in La Baie de Somme.

'Recently,' she says, 'I have started to work from my head – or is it my heart? – from imagination, or is it memory? It is as if I am painting every sea I have ever seen after a life spent living on the coast.'

Great British Life: Pears by Pippa Darbyshire.Pears by Pippa Darbyshire.

She chose to call the exhibition Home not just because it is a homecoming, but also because she paints for people's homes. Preferring to be independent of the gallery system and greater art market, she loves the close contact it gives her with her buyers. 'I want my paintings to be living in the homes of people who share my views. I don’t consider my work to be merely decorative. To me it is serious research into how I identify with the world around me.

'I try to express my philosophy of simplicity and contemplation in the hope that, just as painting, for me, is a means of transcending the chaos of the material world, it might also help others to do the same. It’s a beautiful world out there if we just look and love, and don’t get bogged down by detail.'

Home, an exhibition of paintings by Pippa Darbyshire, Orwells Furniture Showroom, 497 Wherstead Rd, Ipswich IP2 8LL

November 4-17 (closed Sundays), 10am – 6pm. Pippa will be in attendance from 2pm, Tuesday - Saturday



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