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"My eyes were opened to a riot of colour" Isobel Pigott tells Newburytoday how a visit to Paris changed her artistic outlook completely

Isobel Pigott

Aldworth artist Isobel Pigott returned to her painting a few years ago after a long break bringing up a family and running her garden design and landscaping business.

She originally studied Fine Art at Reading University and was lucky enough to be there when Sir Terry Frost was Professor of Art. His work and that of a number of other St Ives artists were a big influence.

Isobel working in her Aldworth studio

However, the most exciting and motivating moment of her time at university came in the third year when she was sent to Paris for a few weeks to study the contents of galleries and museums.

"My eyes were opened to a riot of colour by such artists as Bonnard, Kandinsky, Chagall and, most importantly, Matisse," she explains.

"I returned in my final year with sketch books overflowing, my mind in overdrive and a new-found enthusiasm.

"That love for colour, pattern, shape and the relationship between them has remained in my work ever since."

A visit to the Bibliotheque Nationale had introduced her to the drawings of Henri Matisse and inspired a lifelong passion for his work. “In his drawings it was the accomplished, simplicity of line, in his paintings the richness of colour and energy of pattern, all laid down with such ease," she says. "When I returned to my painting, I began to experiment with all of these elements.”

Returning to her art so many years later, Isobel had to start again, constantly experimenting and investigating, but Matisse’s influence is still clearly visible. In fact Matisse's use of paper cut-outs has been the catalyst for Isobel's latest body of work.

"The way that I respond to my subject is very instinctive and physical and cutting into the paper and the colour with scissors allows me to express this," she adds. "The way that the paper is painted and prepared before cutting produces different textural qualities. Sometimes one application of colour crosses another leaving marks where the brush was placed. Choosing where to cut and for which element is, on the whole, well thought out but quite often it is a happy accident."

Isobel enjoys the process of adding new shapes, removing and rearranging and visiting an extensive choice of combinations. For example, the relationship between positive and negative. Going forward with the cut-outs she would like to abstract more and work at a larger scale.

For Isobel it is vital to keep trying new techniques and challenge herself wherever possible. She works in a number of different mediums including oils, acrylics, watercolours and pastels. Inspiration has come from the local Downland landscape.

“I spend so much of my time walking in the beautiful countryside around me, taking in the soft curves of the hills etched with crops and tracks," she says. "I see this as a feast of pattern, colour and shape to be applied later to paper or canvas. However, I also love the human aspect and have completed a number of paintings of the Morris men dancing at the village pub.”

She has also spent a lot of time painting in Cornwall inspired by the shapes and patterns made by boats in harbours. Everyday household items and interiors also feature regularly in her work. More recently she has revisited the curves and folds of the human form.

Isobel and fellow Aldworth artist Mandy Monkcom were to exhibit from Isobel’s studio as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks in May. This has now become a virtual festival and will be running from 2nd – 25th May. More details can be found at www.artweeks.org She hopes to open her studio later in the year instead.

More details and examples of her work are on her website www.isobelpigott.co.uk