Artists tap into thunder, like a conducting rod, and translate it into sounds and images. There’s not just thunder in Philomena Harmsworth’s pictures; but also music, movement, languorous lines, light and colour, darkness and silence. The silence exists in the eye of the storm, the absence of light or sound between lightning and thunder, and the thrill of expectation. Philomena’s new exhibition at the New Steine Hotel, Brighton, explores this dichotomy between thunder and silence.
She describes herself as a ‘method artist’. “I sketch and paint whilst immersed in the subject matter. Not until I am dreaming the images that I am painting do I feel it is a success”. Her new series of musicians stem from an impromptu concert she was invited to; “it wasn’t my immediate choice of music. What happened was incredible. I was sitting in the front row and felt surrounded by, and part of, the music being created. My response was the painting ‘First Violin’. She finds that live events provide the inspiration and idea, and then when she is back in the studio she paints to music such as The Prodigy or Chopin, according to the mood she is recreating in the picture.
Sometimes people say to Philomena that going to an art exhibition of hers is a bit like going to see a film. Philomena trained as a set designer and worked on films such as Sleepy Hollow and Band of Brothers. She has travelled from a child obsessing over the symmetry of curves, on a painterly journey to film and theatre, and then developed this into the cinematic themes evident in the narrative of these most recent works. Philomena’s exhibitions are thematic in order to enhance the memory journey; like reading a book. Each genre evokes and awakens new thoughts. Each painting has its own story and the brushstrokes are expressively unique to each scenario.