Matt Baker: How the British countryside inspires amazing art

Art and the countryside go hand in hand, says Matt Baker

North North York Moors National Park

I don’t get a lot of time to paint but I love to do it, and in particular, painting life from the countryside. For me, art is simply the result of how something makes you feel; it’s not about replicating what you see in front of you. To me, it’s what you then do with that feeling. That’s why I find the countryside such a fantastic source of inspiration.

I find what I’m witnessing so emotive, from the weather to the colours and the light. All those things stir up deep feelings within me. And the best thing of all is that everybody gets something different from what they see, so what’s produced is very personal.

There’s a local sculptor near us who displays his work in a eld by the main road and it’s brilliant to see his latest creations against the backdrop of the hills. Similarly, a woodcarver sets up in a lay-by around the corner, displaying his work along the hedgerow. Last year, our village bought a Tommy silhouette for Remembrance Day and that piece of art stands proudly surrounded by our green and pleasant land, evoking so much emotion. A fine example of how art can become a real talking point and inspire others.

The Hay Wain, by John Constable
The Hay Wain, by John Constable

ART THAT EVOKES THE LANDSCAPE

Our house is full of art – pieces that bring the outside in. Outside, we have woodcarvings, sundials and weathervanes on the barns. I also have lots of things I’ve done on Countryfile at home, too, from stone carving, metalwork, a painting using fossilised squid ink and lino prints. We include them in the show because, of course, art and the countryside go hand in hand. After I visited the location for John Constable’s The Hay Wain on Countryfile (pictured above), I was inspired to go and see it in the National Gallery and was totally surprised at how big it was. Standing in a place like the National Gallery, it’s easy to understand how, through history, landscape art has been so important in bringing the countryside’s character into our homes.

I’m always excited to meet those who take inspiration from our landscape in this way, such as Mark Ellis , the stonemason who created the Dry Stone Wall Maze at Dalby Forest in the North York Moors National Park. It’s one of the finest pieces of art I’ve ever visited. People are going to be marvelling at it and entertained by it for centuries to come.

As life gets faster paced, it’s more important than ever to get in tune with the natural pace of life and understand and experiment with how it makes us feel. So, to all those budding artists out there, pick up a paintbrush and paint what you feel, not what you see.

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