Artist profile - Tracy Levine
PUBLISHED: 14:18 11 June 2017
It started with beautiful flower heads and blossomed into an exhibition and a tribute to the artist's late father. Roger Borrell reports.
Tracy Levine doesn’t do pretty and she doesn’t do flowers. But then, as every good artist knows, rules are made to be broken.
The Arnside painter and printmaker has become one of the region’s most accomplished landscape painters, exhibiting regularly across northern England, Scotland and further afield.
Her work, often echoing the coastline that can be seen from her studio window, captures the light and shade of the landscape with a deftness of touch and an instinct for colour that makes them much in demand.
However, a visit to her father’s garden on the Isle of Man set her on a different path which has led to Brantwood, the stunning former home of John Ruskin near the village of Coniston. Her exhibition there, Bright and Beautiful, opens on June 17.
‘The theme happened by accident,’ she says. ‘I spotted some of those wonderful large-headed hydrangeas in dad’s garden. It was autumn and the blue flowers were starting to die off and change colour.
‘I decided I had to take them back home and paint them. In fact, I became engrossed in them. Then, the project became a sentimental one because dad died the following year. It became quite poignant and I eventually painted five pictures of the hydrangeas.
‘I’m not a painter of pretty pictures or flowers as such but there has always been a floral element to my landscapes. At the time, I was out cycling in the Lyth Valley when I spotted some roadside weeds. They were gorgeous daises growing in scrubby land and from then on I started looking for weeds in wild places rather than formal garden flowers.’
Over three years it grew into a body of more than 30 works, mainly mixed media dominated by acrylics but including some monoprints. Most will be on show at Brantwood.
Many take on a theme of wildflowers and weeds growing outside the manicured borders of our domestic gardens and they also highlight the threat to many through lost habitat and the over-management of the land.
‘It has been a very enjoyable experience,’ says Tracy, who was born in Blackpool and grew up in Lytham St Annes.
‘It involved blues and reds I don’t often get to use and sitting in a flower meadow was certainly better than being on an icy hillside with my paints freezing!’
Tracy’s father was well known in Blackpool for running the Lemon Tree casino and nightclub complex along with his brother. So will his daughter find it difficult to part with the hydrangea paintings?
‘The first I did hangs over my fireplace as a reminder of dad but the paintings are all for sale,’ she says. ‘I don’t keep my work because I’d run out of storage space, but yes it will be hard to let the hydrangeas go.’
Bright and Beautiful by Tracy Levine will be at Brantwood from June 17 to September 3 with original works for sale between £350-£4,500 and prints available for £150.