IN these days when we hear and see so much of conceptual and other forms of contemporary art, how pleasing it is to see that the art of watercolour landscapes is far from dead – particularly when the paintings have the appealing subject matter and excellent technique displayed by an artist like Les Packham.
That’s why it’s well worth making a short trip out of town to the bookbinding premises of Riley, Dunn and Wilson Ltd on Red Doles Lane, off Leeds Road, to view the Wakefield artist’s latest exhibition, Yorkshire in Watercolour which runs until June 12.
There’s a fine selection of work here to please the most discerning viewer and all the paintings in the show – plus quite a few more – are included in full colour in a well-produced book with the same title as the exhibition (available in paperback and hardback).
The two largest paintings are particularly worthy of mention. Langstrothdale Chase near the source of the River Wharfe – a favourite location for the artist and his wife – has delicious soft colouring with its hills, trees and water.
The ancient woodland at Grenoside near Sheffield makes for another deftly and delicately handled handsome study.
A Huddersfield townscape is included with a row of characterful buildings in Queen Street.
A lane at Hade Edge above Holmfirth is seen in all its green summer finery while tenter posts make an interesting subject in Marsden.
Atmospheric villages scenes in the Dales and elsewhere form a strong part of the artist’s stock-in-trade and there is some meticulous brushwork in paintings of Great Ouseburn, Thwaite and Hovingham and the lane, pub and walkers at Appletreewick.
An unusual view of a favourite subject, Whitby, viewed from a distance, is dominated by storm clouds.
Further up the coast there’s a dramatic winter image of Bouldby Cliffe, Staithes – the highest in England at nearly 600ft.
“There is something about fresh, crisp snow that I find particularly appealing,” says the artist, and his picture of Hebden with the bridge and the lone sheep typifies his comments.
Loup Scar just upstream from Burnsall in the Dales has an interesting story to tell, the artist explains, in one of the comments on his pictures which he includes in the book.
It is the location where Grassington blacksmith Tom Lee pushed over the body of Dr Petty who he had previous murdered in an effort to make it appear to be an accident.
“He was thwarted by a courting couple who had witnessed the whole incident, which ultimately sent him to the gallows,” reveals Les. “That apart, it’s a very beautiful section of the River Wharfe and part of a very attractive riverside walk.”
That all parts of Yorkshire in the hands of Les Packham have their own particular attractions is evident in the book, Yorkshire in Watercolour, published by Northern Arts Publications. It is available in paperback at £14.99 and hardback at £19.99. Call 01484 463340 for more information.
l There are no shortage of exhibitions at present. Flourish, at Huddersfield Art Gallery showcases the work of printmaker Julia Clegg. Julia was the winner of the Flourish Award for excellence in printmaking in 2009.
The annual award was established to recognise a West Yorkshire Printshop member for their contribution to printmaking and for exceptional progress made within their own artistic practice.
This show runs until July 24.