Light overcoming the dark

Perina Kent with painting of Baldwin Valley from Mountain Road. The artist is exhibiting paintings at the Erin Arts Centre, Port Erin

Perina Kent with painting of Baldwin Valley from Mountain Road. The artist is exhibiting paintings at the Erin Arts Centre, Port Erin

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How light overcomes darkness in both the literal and metaphysical sense is the subject of an exhibition of luminous and evocative works by Petrina Kent at the Erin Arts Centre, Port Erin, until January 31.

The exhibition of 22 paintings in acrylic has been created over the last three years.

Petrina said: ‘My strong Christian faith and love of God has given me the desire to capture the beauty of His creation and weave this aspect into my work.

‘I have always sought to paint on the theme of light and how light overcomes darkness. Alongside this theme runs the parallel thought, that light overcomes darkness: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it”. John 1:55.’

Essex born Petrina gained a fine art degree at Bath Academy of Art. She moved to the island in 1982.

‘I came for a job in education,’ she said. ‘I wanted to live near the sea, I had never been to the Isle of Man before, I did not even know where it was. I got married and raised my children here and it is very much my home.’

She is constantly inspired by the contrast in shades created by the island’s ever changing weather and landscape.

Capturing light has always been a major theme but more recently her work has been more about the expression of an ‘event’ rather than just the observed subject. Whether to paint about the major snow that hit the island last year or to speak of the havoc harvest might reek on a field, she sees and is inspired to paint about it. There are often, should the viewer wish to see, hidden stories or meanings within the works.

‘I’m inspired by the island,’ she said. ‘The light changes so quickly. I painted one work of the sky during the big snow event; the sky was divided into two, one side was light and the other was dark, I have been painting the event rather than the visual (aspect), how threatening the weather is and how vulnerable we are.

‘I painted another work called: “Battle of wills”, I was at the Sound, it’s drama, a battle of the currents which I painted not just because it looked good. Another is “Ravished by harvest”, the harvest ripped the land, it was aggressive, what was left behind is quite traumatic.’

She said people often interpret things in paintings she did not intentionally place there.

‘I do not aim to paint some things, but they are in there if you want to see them. I painted the five trees at Injebreck, it was about the strength of unity, one isolated, one close by came down. My brother in law bought it. He is the CEO of a firm of trouble shooters, they [the trees] were his board members, those five trees all had different shapes and characters. It’s funny what happens with art, people get what they want from them.

‘A pilot was talking to me about one work of the sky, he named a cloud I had painted and talked about the way it’s formed, he said it contains snow and is coming towards us. It was the sort of cloud he’d avoid flying through. I thought really, I thought it’s a shape that I just captured with a brush at the end of my arm. It’s so intriguing.’

She said others have told her her works teach them how to see nature.

‘People have said your art shows us things I do not see. There are so many amazing landscapes, you have taught us to see, which is a complement.’

In February, Petrina has another exhibition of work from the past year in which she revisits her favourite subject: ‘The Manx Landscape’ at Isle Gallery at Tynwald Mills, in St John’s, from February 19 to March 23.

‘The recent astonishing skies have captured my imagination and given me momentum,’ she said. ‘It has launched me into a whole new body of work.’

To fully engage with nature, she must get out into it, a daunting prospect at this time of year.

‘On my days off [from working at her gallery in Castletown] I should be in the hills,’ she said. ‘I was shooting waves during the storm, the sea water was so high it was in the sky, I might do something with that while I’m waiting for the sun to come out. I need to strap myself onto some rocks somewhere and paint.’

• Petrina runs a small studio gallery in 15, Malew Street, Castletown where she can be seen working and where there is an ongoing exhibition of her work alongside the work of other artists.

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