Ramsay Gibb has built a reputation over many years for paintings that record journeys he has made in search of ancient pilgrim roads leading to sacred sites, and of remote and wild places
For the last two years he has focussed exclusively on one element, the sea.
The sea and water has always been a strong theme in his work, but previously within the context of a broader view which would include land and sky. Those elements of landscape have now been stripped away – “the secure ground of home”, so that now the vast restless mass of water and the play of light has become the subject.
“The sea is beyond our everyday lives. We engage and have knowledge of a tiny fraction of it. It makes great demands of a painter, is always tantalisingly beyond fully capturing in static paint. It seems to run through the fingers, evading possession. What is portrayed is fraction of time but the painter must understand the moments before and after, the complete motion of which it was a small part. It is only by investing many hours and layering paint that the beauty and complexity of that instant can be revealed”
“The sea has been a metaphor for the boundless energy and vastness of nature, its indefatigable strength. However our perception is changing. “Ocean” has for a long time been a synonym for immensity, of things beyond our dominion, both distance and time. Oceans divided us topographically and culturally. Now our flotsam of discarded objects and waste has intruded into the sea. We are able to measure changes in temperature and sea level, the decline in fish species. The sea now has become the signifier of our carelessness. We doubt its ability to resist. Vast oceans are now seen as vulnerable to our misuse, they are our conscience, and interest in them is an interest that concerns and unites us all.”
“The sea, the great unifier, is man’s only hope. Now, as never before, the old phrase has a literal meaning: we are all in the same boat”. Jacques Yves Cousteau.
Ramsay Gibb was born in Irvine, Ayrshire in 1965. His early years were spent on the coast near Troon. Later his family moved to Lancashire, where he studied first at Bolton and then at the University of Brighton. He has lived on the Sussex coast then Suffolk coast.
The coast and the sea and islands have inspired much of his work Fuelled by a growing fascination for the North and wild places he has travelled and painted Shetland, the Hebrides, Ireland, Finland, Norway, The Lofoten Islands, The Faroes, Greenland and Russia.
His increasing interest in the historical dimension of the landscape of the British Isles led to researching and walking sacred ways and pilgrim routes. The result was his 2011 exhibition “A first avowed intent: On pilgrim roads from Iona to St. David’s”. Then for two years he worked within the broad area of early Northumbria, developing this theme further in following the old routes taken by pilgrims and holy men in this region’s golden age. The resulting paintings “The Pilgrim Coast” 2013 were shown in Northumberland in two separate locations as part of the regional celebration of the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to Durham.
He now lives in the Forest of Bowland.