Keith Purser lives and works on the edge of a huge shingle bank in the shadow of Dungeness power station, a village called Lydd-on-Sea. On the tip of a headland in south-east Kent, his home faces out to a wide expanse of beach and out to the coast of France. This is a place of light and vast skies; the open shingle is dotted only by the few plants that can thrive in the weather-beaten environment and the abandoned supplies of local fishermen. With a landscape seemingly so devoid of features, Purser finds himself free to study texture and light.
After examining Purser’s paintings, you will find they are rich in features, with the artist making use of the objects he discovers on his daily walks: driftwood, beach-combed netting, gravel, shells, sea glass, broken ceramics and sand are a found within. In some paintings, an impression of an object is all that is left, inscribed into the surface, transferred and removed. If one of these finds sticks in the artist’s mind long enough, it becomes the spark that determines a painting, becoming spiritually, if not physically, present. For instance, the irregular black shapes that can be found are reminders of the dozens of fishing crates that pepper the shoreline.
Purser first sketches his compositions and then retreats to his studio at his home, from where he can watch the ships passing along the Dover Strait. Working from a calm palette of lemon and chrome yellow, ultramarine, cerulean and Prussian blue, the careful addition of metallic pigment helps to capture the light that the artist finds such an inspiration. With flashes of reds and those sparse ivory-black boxes, Purser captures in painting the land, sky and sea.