Projects: Constable at the V&A


Projects: Constable at the V&A
by Kirsty Thomas

We were recently invited to create an exclusive screen print to coincide with the V&A’s exhibition, “Constable: The Making of a Master”.

As well as being a huge honour, this project also presented an exciting creative challenge. Like Constable, our work often relates to nautical landscapes and expressions of the sea and sky, but we are often more influenced by mid 20th century abstraction than the more traditional depictions of landscapes in 19th Century art.

However, the V&A’s selection of paintings and oil sketches included in the exhibition are both extensive and fascinating and we spent hours sifting through the collection and mulling over the links that we might make between his work and ours. We settled on Constable’s 1824 oil sketch, Brighton Beach with Colliers. This piece depicts coal ships mooring against a grey blue evening sky and flanked by a long line of golden beach which catches the late evening sunlight. In his inscription Constable noted the “ very white and golden light”.


I was drawn to the wide curve of shoreline which sweeps across the painting and creates a bold arc of deep blue sea which then intersects with the solid line of the horizon. This bold block of colour became the key form in our print with negative space suggesting the beach and sky. The “golden light” of Constable’s sketch is reflected in our use of metallic foil, and the cliffs which feature in the far distance of the painting, are represented by a simple geometric block of dark charcoal-grey.

Whilst a far cry from Constable’s original work, I hope that our print “1824” is a subtle nod to this 19th Century master and perhaps reflects some of the line and composition of his original sketch.

Constable: The Making of a Master runs until 11th January. 1824 is available to buy at the V&A, £60 and here.

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