Artist Mic Chambers will displays his work at Ashburton’s North Street Gallery.

Mic Chambers - ''Sheep Madness' Oils on Canvas £4000 100x100

Mic Chambers - ''Sheep Madness' Oils on Canvas £4000 100x100 - Credit: Archant

Primarily known for his portraiture, artist Mic Chambers has taken to the wilds of Devon to capture some of its other inhabitants, writes CAROL BURNS

Mic Chambers - self portrait

Mic Chambers - self portrait - Credit: Archant

It is the wooden sculpture sitting in North Street Gallery’s window that marks out artist Mic Chambers territory. The bigger than life sculpture of a sitting figure on a chair (or is it a torture device?) provides endless discussion, he says for people entering the gallery.

His pop-up exhibition at the Ashburton gallery is a great opportunity to see the development of his work from portraiture to sculpture and into oil painting of his surroundings.

Mic Chambers - Father and son

Mic Chambers - Father and son - Credit: Archant

A self-taught artist who studied with renowned pastel artist Ken Paine, his education has been ongoing throughout his artistic practice with prolific experimentation in mediums, subjects and techniques. But it is his freedom of expression which ties his work together. His role is to calm what he calls ‘a whirling soup of noise, colour and ideas’.

Today it is his paintings of livestock that captivate. A new venture, he spends time painting en plein air in and around Devon - most recently in Sharpham - and his expressive palette knife manages to record the individual expression of the everyday animals we are often too quick to dismiss. “Each one has a different character,” he says of his subjects. “I was quite surprised by how much character there is in a sheep. When you stop and paint them there is a lot going on.”

Mic Chambers

Mic Chambers - Credit: Archant

His work is far from twee. Vibrant use of oil colour and the expressive use of his tools bring something fresh and endlessly fascinating to the canvas. The subjects sit within an abstracted environment which catches the eye as much as the models.

For those familiar with his work, Chambers has created portraits working mainly with flatter acrylics but for his latest work he has moved over to oils, creating work that is almost sculptural in style and balancing vibrant colour and composition.

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“It’s a style I arrived at. The background may look chaotic but if that didn’t work then the image wouldn’t work – it has to bring the whole thing together and it can be quite tricky,” he admits. “It’s about making it interesting to look at – it’s not easy to get it all balanced.”

But he is incredibly successful at achieving it and his work is a real feast for the senses, all the more fulfilling by the knowledge that you are in the hands of a master who will make your visual journey across the canvas enjoyable and worthwhile.

Among other recent works are his rendering of Plymouth’s trawlers, which are proving popular with collectors. Again he has approached a classic subject with his unique expressive style.

And his subjects are far from accidental. “I do believe there’s a space for art in Devon; people are used to seeing art and enjoy culture without the pressures of London. Good art helps us make sense of our surroundings,” he writes in his statement.

“Art is not the total answer, but an absolute part of the whole truth of the human condition.”

See more of Mic’s work at his next pop-up gallery in June at Ashburton’s North Street Gallery.

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