Kerry Darlington - A Retrospective
Wyecliffe Galleries are proud to present the largest collection of Kerry Darlington originals from the last twelve years. This is your chance to see Kerry's most sought after works up close at out Weybridge Studio.
View the full collection here, or read on to hear the stories behind the legendary figures....
The Daughter of Gaia
“I love Victorian, Nouveau and Pre-Raphaelite paintings and was particularly inspired by this piece by Cadogan Cowper when I was deciding upon the composition. I also love the way Mucha often uses circular shapes behind his figures, representing the sun or the moon.”
One of Kerry’s most disarming works; Daughter of Gaia is Kerry’s tribute to nature in many forms, in particular the earth mother of Greek antiquity:
The first Greek god was actually a goddess. She is Gaia, or Mother Earth, who created herself out of primordial chaos. From her fertile womb, all life sprang, and unto Mother Earth all living things must return after their allotted span of life is over.
I decided to name her 'Daughter of Gaia' rather than 'Gaia' because I don't believe that I could put a face to Mother Earth, I feel as though she is more of a force that is everything and everywhere.
As well as Greek Myth and the Pre-Raphaelite brotherhood; Kerry drew inspiration from the enigmatic Easter Island and her experiences there…
Easter Island is the most beautiful place I have ever 'felt'. The energies there are incredible. It is silent yet full of ancient noise, stained thick full of memories and stories. It is a 6-hour flight straight into the Pacific Ocean, in the middle of nowhere.
“Legends there tell of the Birdman ritual, and it was a story about this that conjured the image of a girl surrounded by birds. I wanted to drape her hair over her arms, to subtly represent intricate wings.”
The Little Mermaid
You, poor little mermaid, have tried with your whole heart to do as we are doing; you have suffered and endured and raised yourself to the spirit-world by your good deeds; and now, by striving for three hundred years in the same way, you may obtain an immortal soul.
- The Little Mermaid, Hans Christian Andersen
Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid princess on the eve of her 15th birthday. Unlike the Disney adaptation, the ending of the tale is an unhappy one for the mermaid, but also tinged with optimism as she is elevated to a ‘Daughter of the Air’. Kerry’s lush, utopian vision of the underwater kingdom plus the agency and resolve in the figure of the mermaid herself, take the original tale’s redemptive qualities as inspiration for this luminous work.
Little Red Riding Hood
This magnificent original is made with three layers, embellished with 3D elements and finished with gold leaf highlights.
Reminiscent of Angela Carter’s magical-realist screenplay for ‘The Company of Wolves’, this piece delves into the romantic mysticism that underpins the Red Riding hood folk legend, including dichotomy between the safe, civilised village of Riding Hood and the dark, mysterious wilderness of the wolf (note the ‘yin-yang’ symbol in the top-left corner).
Fell in the weeping brook. Her clothes spread wide;
And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up:
Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes;
As one incapable of her own distress,
Or like a creature native and indued
Unto that element: but long it could not be
Till that her garments, heavy with her drink,
Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious buy
To muddy death.
- Gertrude, Hamlet
The death of Ophelia is widely regarded as one of Shakespeare’s most poetic and beautiful passages and has long been inspiration for artists -most famously, John Everett Millais' Pre-Raphaelite painting after which Kerry’s own sumptuous version is named.
One of Kerry’s largest ever works, this incredible original showcases her mastery of the figurative from, as well as the mythic, primal almost abstract depths of the river as they imperceptibly merge with Ophelia’s flowing locks.
An adaptation of the German fairy story 'Persinette', 'Rapunzel' famously has its main character a prisoner for much of the story.
This remarkable original allows up to see a glimpse of the dreams and imaginings within Rapunzel’s mind during her lonely incarceration. Ranging from dark, elemental fairy-tale motifs to modern and futuristic fantasies.
The Snow Queen, Charcoal Study
This beautiful piece is based on the folklore tale by Hans Christian Anderson in which an enchanted mirror has been cursed by an evil troll so that anyone who looks within it only sees the bad and ugliness. The antagonist tries to carry the mirror to heaven to try and bewitch the angels, but the mirror slips out of his hands and falls to earth shattering into millions of pieces. Humanity is engulfed by the dust of the mirror, and many are put into a dark spell.
Years later, young children Kay and Gerda are playing together, and small shards of the mirror get into Kay’s eyes and heart. The only thing to appear beautiful to him are snowflakes dancing in the sky during the winter; after the flurry Kay sneaks out to follow the Snow Queen who is sleighing through the town. She takes him back to her palace, kissing him once to numb him from the cold, a second time to make him forget his family and Gerda. Gerda is heartbroken and searches for Kay tirelessly, before entering the Snow Queens domain. She cries with relief when she finds him almost frozen, and her warm tears of love dislodge the mirror shards from him eyes and he is finally happy once again.
The piece is also in part inspired by the young White Witch, Jadis, in the Chronicles of Narnia, and so is an amalgamation of the two characters, written decades apart.
This is a unique look at the genesis of one of Kerry’s most spellbinding works.
Young Tiger Lily
A dramatic charcoal study of one of literature's most iconic characters, this preparatory sketch is the final piece to be released from Kerry's celebrated Peter Pan series.
Lady of Shalott
"In 2011 I had a landscape board that I had started to paint.... I turned it portrait and I just saw the board as something else..."
They cross'd themselves, their stars they blest,
Knight, minstrel, abbot, squire, and guest.
There lay a parchment on her breast,
That puzzled more than all the rest,
The wellfed wits at Camelot.
'The web was woven curiously,
The charm is broken utterly,
Draw near and fear not,—this is I,
The Lady of Shalott.'
- The Lady of Shalott, Alfred Tennyson
Inspired by a rich mixture of influences; from her much-loved North Wales landscape to Lord Tennyson’s seminal poem, to the famous Pre-Raphaelite Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse…. Through to the stirring lament ‘The Blower’s Daughter’ by Damien Rice!
Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
It is frightfully difficult to know much about the fairies, and almost the only thing for certain is that there are fairies wherever there are children.
― J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens
Before the better-known leader of the Lost Boys, there was an earlier form of literary ‘Peter Pan’ first appearing in JM Barrie’s novel of vignettes ‘The Little White Bird’ and then its own publication ‘Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens’. This Pan was a literal lost boy, 7-days old, stranded in Kensington Gardens that after nightfall is transformed into a mystical land of fairies and other magical constructs.
In this original, Pan finds favour with Queen Mab and entertains her fairies and magical creatures by playing the pan-pipes.
Alice in William Rabbit’s House
Debuting at Wyecliffe’s very own annual Kerry Darlington event 2015, this multi-layered original illustrates the ‘Chapter Four – The Rabbit Sends a Little Bill’ chapter of Lewis Carroll’s literary masterpiece. Alice has grown to huge size inside the White Rabbit’s house and he has sent Bill the Lizard down the chimney to investigate….
East of the Sun, West of the Moon
Inspired by an old Norwegian folk tale of the same name which tells the story of a peasant girl who marries a prince who has been turned into a white polar bear and lives in a castle east of the sun and west of the moon.
"The tale appealed to me because the picture I had in my mind reminded me also of Lyra Silvertongue and Lorek Byrnison, characters from the epic trilogy by Philip Pullman - 'His Dark Materials. In this piece, the girl has just left home for the first time and has her first taste of freedom. She is looking up in awe of nature's display in the skies, the Northern Lights. As her senses open and she relishes the cold, fresh wilderness, part of her remembers who she really is".