Chantal Barnes’s work on exhibition at Staithes Gallery

Chantal Barnes was born in York in 1986. The daughter of an artist, she has been painting since she was able to hold a brush. After graduating with a First Class Honours degree in Fine Art in 2008, Chantal then moved to London where she established a career in TV. However, a debilitating illness in 2014 forced her to take a break from television and return to the North. During this time she spent many months living in Staithes, where walking, running and painting on the clifftops proved integral to her recovery. This pause – spent immersed in the coastal landscape by day, and huddled round the fire in the Laura Knight Studio by night – proved to be the spark for the work Chantal has produced over the past few years.

Although her studio is now back in the South of England, Chantal regularly returns to walk on the Yorkshire Moors, always carrying a sketchbook and panels of wood to work on directly. This latest body of work depicts views from The Cleveland Way, a route she has a deep connection with and has trekked in all weathers and lights, from sunrise to sunset. The work is layered recollections of being in that place.

Chantal’s process begins with creating wet pools of abstracted colour on the surface. It’s from this and subsequent veils of paint that the recognisable forms of the landscape emerge. Chantal works with this initial abstraction rather than against it – generating both an experiential emotion of existing in that landscape and a surface that is stacked with interesting accidents. Chantal wants the workings of her painting to be visible – the tonal layers revealing previous images below the final surface. The work is a visceral interpretation of the ever-changing landscape, revealing the scars of a land that has existed for millennia.