Backroads of the Mind 

Major one-man show, Fairhurst Gallery, April 2015

Many of the things that people want painted - sunsets, beautiful windmills, stately wherries, big skies and glistening sands - already exist in nature, or have become part of nature over centuries. They cannot be improved upon. So, if artists want to look for structure and meaning in life, they can study the ordinary, and the longer they study a subject, the more the very ordinariness of that subject will allow them to delve deeper into the motives that drive their work.

That is precisely what John Midgley did with his "Backroads" pictures. He spent a couple of years painting the bridges and by-roads that dissect the flowing landscape of North Norfolk.

In concentrated efforts of painting like this, one becomes more and more conscious of the beautiful rhythm of the environment one passes through every day. You build up a never-ending interest in understanding glimpses of the structure of it - how it was constructed, both by nature, and by the works of man. Also, during the constant daily acts of painting, one becomes aware of how one's instincts towards colour harmonies and forms often follow those that are observe in nature. 

It is difficult to determine where this work fits into the pattern of contemporary art; on one hand the Backroads series look like paintings from British art of the 1940s, but that would mean overlooking the degree of development in the art of landscape painting evident in this exhibition - which just doesn't seem dated. 

To get his point across, John felt his work needed to be shown in its entirety, and in the right sort of gallery. Consequently the Fairhurst Gallery, in Norwich city centre, exhibited 25 of the Backroads paintings as part of its radical new programme.  

Land Lines, a major exhibition by John Midgley, ran at the Fairhurst Gallery, Websdales Court, off Bedford Street, NR2 1AR from April 17 to May 7, 2015.