Singing a Different Song – Patrick Samuel gets in touch with nature

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‘Passing Time: Moments in Broomfield’ is Patrick Samuel’s second exhibition at the Dugdale Centre in Enfield Town, North London. Focusing on the local park, the artwork details what the space means to the artist. Review by Emmeline Burdett.

expressive painting of the bones of trees in vibrant yellows and greens

Forgotten – Oil pastels on card. 39x49cm approx. Image © Patrick Samuel

Samuel’s first exhibition shown at the Dugdale Centre last year – titled ‘Escape and Return’ – detailed the artist’s feelings as someone on the autistic spectrum, who can become overwhelmed, and thus views art partly as a means of escape from the noise and speed of modern life.

This new exhibition ploughs a similar furrow, but this time Samuel’s refuge is not art per se, but Broomfield, a local park and stately home. Samuel describes the park as an extension of home:

“If a tree is suddenly taken down after a storm, I’d miss it. When the ducks I know aren’t there any more, I feel it. As a person with ADHD and autism, Broomfield symbolises a place of peace, calm and tranquillity. It’s a refuge from all the other things which are constantly in flux”.

This being so, the exhibition, which consists of over thirty artworks drawn in oil pastels on card, covers a number of different themes, all inspired by some aspect of Broomfield. Each picture is accompanied by a short poem by Samuel, further explaining its meaning, and also by a small plan of Broomfield Park, showing the vantage point of the painting.

expressive painting of the bones of trees

Silent Dancers. Oil pastels on card
29.5×49.5cm approx. Image © Patrick Samuel

This is the case even when it is clear that Samuel’s position in the park has only been the jumping-off point for his eventual artwork. An example of this is ‘Neon Sky’, which shows a striking multi-coloured sky. The accompanying poem includes the lines: ‘Pink and red/ purple and blue/ all the colours I feel/ When I think of you’ – suggesting that, rather like Vincent van Gogh, Samuel regards colours as being representative of emotion.

The exhibition thus includes a wide mix of pictures, some autobiographical, some purely imaginative, some offering perspectives on wider issues. The autobiographical pictures often continue the theme of finding a refuge from modern life which was a feature of Samuel’s previous Dugdale exhibition.

Examples of these include ‘Secret Pond’ and ‘Forgotten Corner’ with its theme of recharging one’s batteries by being alone with nature, and ‘Not Kansas Anymore’, a picture which both references ‘The Wizard of Oz’, and shows the intensity of Samuel’s feelings. The picture shows trees and an approaching tornado – the impression that the latter represents a sudden strong emotion is increased by the accompanying poem, which includes the line ‘Say hello to my wrath’.

As mentioned previously, some of the pictures in the exhibition are purely imaginative, such as ‘Silent Dancers’, in which the trees in Broomfield Park are imagined moving and dancing, whilst others allude to wider issues, such as the importance of the restoration of Broomfield House.

The exhibition is full of beautifully-executed and thought-provoking pictures. The poems further contribute to stimulate the viewer’s imagination, often helping to explain the themes in the artwork.

‘Passing Time: Moments in Broomfield’ runs from 2-27 October. For more information go to http://patricksamuel.net