The Brownston Gallery near Modbury has recently added Teignmouth based artist, Joe Webster, to the list of artists they represent and last month his work was featured as part of the first exhibition of the year, Marks Of Nature –– A Celebration of Nature.

Joe is a very instinctive painter, preferring to paint ‘en plein air’ and will often unroll his canvas directly onto the ground so he can literally feel the earth beneath his feet and look at the trees and sky above him.

His work hums with a natural energy and is enhanced by the subtle addition of graffiti, man-made marks which complement the raw work of nature.

Joe grew up in North Cornwall among the raw, wild and unforgiving landscape of the Atlantic coastline and from a very young age he revelled in venturing out into squalls and being blasted by hail or foam.

This joy naturally led into paint and the challenge of capturing the great outdoors sometimes in extreme conditions.

He studied with Carole Vincent and at Falmouth College of Arts but ultimately considers himself as a ‘student of the weather where decades of trial and error, experience and observation have crafted my approach as rain, mist, hail or snow etches different textures into my paint’.

Around 2009 his work evolved to incorporate street-art tools, initially permanent markers then spray paints and pens. Whereas water-based media is sympathetic and responsive to the weather, this urban media can be applied fast and were permanent, acts almost like a rock or anchor in the tide of paint.

This has greatly extended his repertoire for working with pace and responsiveness to the elements whilst at the same time introduced a dialogue between natural and artificial.

Joe states: ‘I have always loved contrasts, I am drawn to the gentle, subtle and serene and equally to the harsh and violent; such as roaring breakers with lashing wind in a bruised sky.

‘It’s not that I’m interested in drama or narratives but am drawn to the sense of balance within the natural world and that within this I feel a sense of gratitude, hope and compassion towards suffering.

‘I am deeply saddened by the sheer collapse of ecosystems and mass extinction of species which we are currently witnessing but firmly believe that the solutions to these problems lie with fostering a relationship with nature through which we are moved to protect it through love.

‘The current global pandemic has highlighted the necessity of having access to nature for our wellbeing and I see my work as bringing this relationship and celebration of nature indoors, intimately into people’s homes and lives.’