Artist David Britton’s new exhibition

PUBLISHED: 14:26 18 July 2016 | UPDATED: 14:26 18 July 2016

Spring at Wormingford Airfield 1990

Spring at Wormingford Airfield 1990


Essex artist David Britton exhibits at the Hayletts Gallery in Maldon this month, providing visitors with an opportunity to lose themselves in the large canvasses of the infinite estuaries, seascapes and landscapes of Essex

Saltings 1998Saltings 1998

Working from a studio in his Mersea Island garden, David Britton captures the scale and beauty of Essex coastlines, waterways and landscapes on canvas and has shared his talent with the viewing public at a number of exhibitions over the years. He speaks frankly of his journey and how his aptitude and comprehension have evolved, culminating in the collection he is sharing at the Hayletts Gallery in Maldon this month.

‘When I first started painting, my chief interest lay in the direction of the usual things that interest figurative painters – landscape, seascape and townscape etc. I don’t apologise for this, for these subjects are inexhaustible. This always presented itself to me as a matter of scale. I was ‘visited’ by a vision of a simple subject, such as a copse in a large field, to be executed without detail and in a 4’ to 6’ size. These early efforts, in the 1960s and mid-70s, were all failures!

‘I used to struggle with “spatial tonality”. I worked out that this was because I did not often see the distance as blue. I saw through the blue and saw what is called “the local colour” instead. What I needed was a place in nature where the distance was so great that I did begin to see the blue there. I sought these places out, in Essex, and in 1982 did the first successful large-scale painting that satisfied me.’

In 1983, three of David’s works were chosen, through an open exhibition, to be displayed at the new Colchester District Hospital. Spurred on by this success, David continued to explore the countryside and sometimes happened on one of the miracles of the infinite.

David BrittonDavid Britton

He explains: ‘I would (and still do), produce about 30 ordinary paintings to one of these special ones. Strangely enough, one of the early “infinite” works was inspired by a description in Doreen Wallace’s book East Anglia, in the Batsford Series of County Books. She described a soft October morning on the Blackwater Estuary – both sea and sky quiet, and of the same colour and tone. The challenge I set myself was to make something interesting out of that. My first attempt was only moderately satisfactory. So I thought I had better visit the estuary at that time of year, which I did.’

In the mid-80s, David and his wife moved to Sheffield, but the lure of the Essex coastline was too great and they returned to West Mersea in 2004. David concludes: ‘Unfortunately, during my absence, my growing name here had been forgotten. I have, in that sense, had to start all over again and I am most grateful to the Hayletts Gallery, with its splendid reputation, for giving me this exhibition.’

Find out more:

Hayletts Gallery, Oakwood House, 2 High Street, Maldon, Essex, CM9 5PJ. 01621 851669.

The gallery is open Tuesdays through to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm. David Britton’s exhibition runs from June 25 until July 23

Latest from the Essex Life