PAINTING THE FENS
6 December – 7 January
The landscape of The Fens only exists because of the millions of gallons of water that are drained into the miles of ditches that surround every field. These ditches are the beginning of the huge man-made effort to take water from below sea level via drains and pump houses, into rivers and then finally out to sea.
Ditches are also the only places in The Fens that are not ploughed, drilled, harvested and most importantly sprayed with fertilisers and herbicides. They are nature’s refuge from this onslaught. Often called the hedgerows of The Fens, like hedges in the rest of our landscape, ditches form strips of seasonal life that are left to create their own habitats. Like hedges, ditches are cut and cleared every now and then to keep them working but everything quickly grows back and they fill again with reeds, flowers, warblers, reed buntings and dragonflies. As a result of all this nature ditches are subject to huge amounts of legislation and scrutiny. They fall under the watch of the many drainage boards such as the Middle Level Commissioners and the Association of Drainage Authorities as well as being scrutinised by Natural England, The RSPB, The Environment Agency, various wildlife trusts, farming conservation groups and all the local councils. The future of ditches in The Fens is for others to decide upon and maybe when all the soil has been blown and eroded away from the land in between them the battle between the “re-wilders” and the property developers can really commence.
To me these precious margins are just dividing lines that run at ninety degrees to each other and border the huge fields of crops. The fields they frame are slabs of ever-changing colour. You can look down them or across them. Depending on your viewpoint ditches form either horizontal lines that divide the landscape or converging lines that meet at the vanishing point. Looking down a ditch creates one kind of painting, looking across a ditch another. The result is two types of landscape. You can stand in a fenland field and see both at the same time, all you have to do is turn ninety degrees. Ditches create the landscape that I love and thereby create my paintings.
Fred Ingrams, 2016
Fred Ingrams was born in Berkshire in 1964.
He studied at Camberwell and St. Martins Schools of Art, where he was though expelled for being a disruptive influence, determined to use acrylics rather than oils…
His work was first noticed in Soho where he painted “quite sexual and angry nudes” that exhibited with, among others, Grayson Perry and Marc Quinn, and purchased by Francis Bacon.
He has worked as a graphic designer and art director on magazines such as the Sunday Times, The Field, Tatler, Vogue and House & Garden.
In 1998 he moved back to the countryside in Norfolk where he went back to painting landscapes.
This exhibition will feature new works depicting the geometries of the Ditches that so strongly characterise The Fens.