David Fennell-Roberts is a painter of landscapes, natural and man-made. In his solo exhibition at The Dorothy Pax in Victoria Quays he presents work both in response to a particular local landscape and in response to his own introspective view of self.
David is incredibly knowledgeable about Long Island, an overlooked part of Sheffield at the core of this city's rich history. Spending time in and around the area inspired David to make paintings about his relationship with this most particular of environments. His large paintings, appropriately made with a palette knife, are an intense collage of imagery that capture the essence of the area more accurately than any photograph. The smaller work is a contemplation of the rippled reflections in the River Don of the buildings and shrubbery that stand on its banks. These are subtle, evocative portraits of Sheffield's industrial landscape.
Below, David shares some of his knowledge about Long Island:
Long Island, (not to be confused with Kelham Island,) was one of many islands created by cutting millstreams to drive waterwheels and thus machinery. Through (un-) common usage, Long Island now refers to the space bordered by the River Don, The Sheffield and Tinsley Canal and the old railway viaduct. Effingham Road squeezes through the neck of the ‘island’ edged by the river on one side and the canal on the other, though all at very different levels.
Much of the road layout and many of the buildings were in place by the mid-19th century.
Lacking the space and level surface, the buildings remained the home of small industry and probably for these reasons escaped the bulldozers that scoured the area further downstream.
Building uses have change, with rare exceptions. Adaptions made with an eye for economy and only essential repairs carried out. But, there are few buildings not is use.
The canal has been regenerated as a green corridor. Nature has gained a toe hold where it can.
Long Island is the essence of resilience. Its buildings, industry and people contribute to the future of Sheffield through their hard work and entrepreneurial spirit while maintaining a part of the past.
From an artist’s perspective, it is a rich tapestry of colour, pattern and texture. It doesn't lend itself to sentimentalised pretty pictures, but it has inspired me.
I hope my paintings challenge your thinking about art, and the environment in which we live and work.
Meet the artist
23 November, 1-4pm, The Dorothy Pax
Opportunity to meet and talk to David about his work and his inspiring stories in the cosy pub.