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Nerys's paintings of the built environment are an extension of her interest in landscape, but this theme appeared in her work only in the mid-1990s. In the visits to Venice in 1994 and 1996, she had little or no access to the many private gardens in the city, so her usual subjects of plants and flowers were largely unavailable. However, colour and decay were all around her in strange angles and peeling plaster. Her desire to paint within Durham cathedral in the winter of 1994/95 was stimulated in part by her friend Birtley Aris, whose painting from 1987, Durham Cathedral looking east along the north aisle, had long hung in her flat. The paintings of the riverside at Newcastle - only a dozen works and immediately snapped up by eager buyers, so not represented here - were instead the result of a commission from Air UK, as part of Visual Arts Year in 1996.
Landscape was a recurring theme in Nerys's work, beginning with the bleak infinities of her early work, moving to a pastoral-like intimacy in pastel drawings of the 1970s and 1980s, and ending with an almost greedy grasp of space during those few occasions in the 1990s when she was able to work outdoors.
Copyright © Nerys Johnson Estate 2010. Page updated 2 August 2014.