Hexham artist Matt Forster is 'picture perfect'
PUBLISHED: 01:16 05 September 2011 | UPDATED: 19:56 20 February 2013
Matt Forster, one of the North East's most renowned artists, has painted and exhibited his work as far afield as the US and New Zealand. So what lured him back to his home county of Northumberland? Marc Turner finds out
From the moment Matt Forster picked up a brush at the age of 14 there was a certain inevitability to him becoming a landscape artist. Growing up in the market town of Hexham, he was inspired by the stunning Northumbrian countryside on his doorstep.
In his 20-year career as an artist, he has painted hundreds of images of the North East and it is a subject he says he will never tire of. Matt, 36, has developed a contemporary and innovative style of watercolour that he calls berpainting or over-painting.
The easiest way to imagine an berpainting, he says, is to think of it like a silk screen print. I apply layers of differently-coloured paint on top of one another in set shapes, with each layer being darker than the last. It is these successive layers that give the compositions their highly-stylised, three-dimensional appearance.
The results are striking, as shown by his painting Hadrians Wall]. Only landscapes with a distinctive character can be portrayed in the ber-style, and the North East has them in abundance. There can be few more imposing Roman sites in the UK than this. As you enter Tynedale from the west, the rock looks like a huge breaking wave, hundreds of feet high, that stretches for miles.
In 2008 Matt won first prize at the prestigious A1 Open Art Exhibition organised by the Station Gallery in Richmond. His work is now exhibited and sold all over the UK, but he remains based in Hexham at the M J Forster Gallery on St Marys Chare. It is here that he spends most of his time, painting and greeting visitors.
An active member of Hexhams community, he is helping with a 3 million fundraising for the Hexham Abbey Project. The project aims to acquire the Carnaby Buildings - part of the Abbeys former monastic complex - and refurbish them to provide, among other things, an exhibition area and concert space.
To assist, Matt is putting on an exhibition at his gallery from September 23 to 25 and the readers of North East Life are all invited. Spaces are limited for the preview on Friday September 23, but it is
an open show on Saturday from 10am to 5pm, and on Sunday
from 1pm to 4pm.
Forty per cent of the proceeds from the event will go to the Abbey, Matt says, so its a great opportunity to help a worthy cause. And if you cant make it to the exhibition, youre more than welcome to call in at my gallery another time.
Im there from 10am to 5pm Tuesdays to Saturdays and, of course, my website - www.mjforster.com - is open all hours. On my home page you can sign up to my newsletter, which will update you on anything new and interesting about my work.