It was a long drive again
to the other side of the Island for Gary and I to visit Lesley Riddihough, our
artist for this week.
Lesley lives in a nice little
finca in the countryside near Sant Joan. But as it was also a sunny, bright
day, almost thirty degrees centigrade, on one of the most splendid and colourful
springs we have had for decades (because of the plentiful April rains) the trip
was rather enjoyable.
Several times we were tempted
to stop the car to take photos of the exuberance of different plants and flowers,
completely covering the fields with their bright colours. The beauty of our
Islands this spring has got to be seen to be believed.
Living in this environment,
it is easy to understand how a sensitive soul can become a real and solid artist
from the bottom of the heart, even if the painting techniques have to be learned
along the way.
At the house we had the welcome
of three generations of splendid women (one of them, about four or five years
old, seated on her swing with her ballet dress on, like a little queen. She
was a real poem!). The intense aroma of the orange tree blossoms and a jasmine
that grows by the entrance made this moment very pleasant.
Lesley's studio is on the
top floor, full of light, with the three typical arches of the local "casa
payesa". It is full of painting materials, oil paint tubes, brushes, untouched
canvas, some already-started new paintings and some ready to be hung, hopefully
in her next exhibition, from the 1st July in Santa Eulari.
The oil paintings that I
was allowed to see were still life, also full of colours, with special emphasis
on the natural details and the reflection of the light, that I consider a very
actual, but also very personal style. They are happy paintings. I felt
good observing them.
On our way back to Sant Antoni,
Gary and I couldn't take a pleasant smile off our faces when we looked at each
other and both agreed that the trip and the time we spent with Lesley had been
really worthwhile living. Good memories to keep.
Lesley was born in Leamington
Spa in the middle of England. She studied dress design at Birmingham College
of Art and in 1962 went to Paris and found a job modelling for Lanvin. The next
summer, hitchhiking around Spain with a friend, they came to Eivissa.
"At the end of our visit
I heard about Formentera, but there was no time to go there. I was determined
to come back again. The magic of these islands had started working on me"
Five years later, after many
summers spent snorkelling in Formentera with her American husband, she separated
from him and came with her small daughter, Shani, to live there. At first, to
survive, she dyed the natural hand spun wool and crocheted jackets, then designed
many kinds of clothes and opened a shop with some friends in "Es Pujols"
"It was a wonderful
time to bring up children on that small island. There was a whole group of us,
it was so easy living amongst the people there, they are so welcoming and relaxed".
In 1981, with another daughter,
Liann, already nine years old, she decided to moved to Ibiza so that they could
continue their studying at the English School in Morna Valley (Sant Carles).
Living in Sant Joan she discovered
the beautiful countryside of Eivissa.
"This Island is very
different from Formentera, softer and prettier, all folded into valleys with
hidden "fincas" (local peasants' country houses) whereas Formentera
is in communion with the sky. I can never decide where I want to live most!"
After her youngest daughter
grew up and left home, and while working in a friend's message service and shop,
Lesley felt she needed to do something more creative, so she went out and bought
some brushes and oils.
"My father had always
painted watercolours of precise old buildings and churches, beautifully executed.
But I didn't think I could do that; the problem was what was to do! In the end
I decided I would do a painting of a pair of boots I particularly loved at that
moment. It turned out really well and I was encouraged to branch out and try
painting the other special moments I wanted to freeze for all time on my canvass".
A couple of years later she
took drawing lessons for three months.
"I loved the way the
teacher forced me to look and re-look at the detail; I think it was this that
started me on the "bodegones" (still life paintings). Painting portraits,
even a tiny stroke of the brush can totally change an expression. But
likewise with my close-ups, I can work for hours on getting a shape with the
right amount of roundness and friendliness as on the contrary sharpness and
meanness, and a colour - or contrast of colours - that is expressing exactly
the feeling I'm trying to give and the essence of the objects.
There is of course, a "Lesleyness"
to all my paintings, but inside of that is a language of curves and colour.
"However, when it comes
down to it, I didn't choose to be a writer and communicate with words: my medium
is visual and you must look at my paintings. I think people are afraid to really
look and think for themselves about Art, although that is changing, but often
they leave themselves be told how to feel about it, either by the artist's message
or the catalogue. I like to sit down and see how I feel about it and I'm hoping
people will feel good when they do the same with mine".
Lesley's painting can be
seen at present in several Art-locals of Eivissa, such as:
"Cas Curuné", On
the road to Sant Joan
"Vista Alegre", Sant Joan
"Casa Turquesa", Santa Eulari
"Lingham", Sant Carles
In Formentera, "Casa Balear", La Sabina.
Lesley Riddihough will hopefully
exhibit her new paintings for two weeks this summer from the 1st
July in the "Sala de Cultura" of Santa Eulari, on the main street,
below the police station.
Lesley's Previous Exhibitions
Santa Eulari, Eivissa
Bella & Siona Baram, Formentera
Origins, Santa Gertrudis, Eivissa
"Es Regueró", Sant Antoni, Eivissa
Arte y Colección, Santa Eulari, Eivissa
"Magazin" (on the road to Sant Joan), Eivissa
Rattan Gallery, Eivissa
Smith Gallery, England
de Cultura", Santa Eulari, Eivissa
"Ajuntament Vell", Sant Francesc, Formentera.
Gallery, Mönchengladbach, Germany
Lesley Riddihough Talking with Friends at an Art Exhibition
Painting Sold 1991
to the Balsa 1996
Door on the Cap 1998
in Wall 1998
Blossom San Vicente 1999
by the Window 1999
Pots & Rolling Pin 2000
Orange & Spoon 1999
& Brown Bowl 1999
in Jar 1999
Bottle & Rose 2001
& Blue Bowl 2002
Flowers In Brown Pot 2002
All Pictures Courtesy Of Lesley Riddihough