Eye-witness accounts – Glass previews UK artist Valerie Wiffen’s latest show of her exquisitely observed drawings and paintings

BRITISH painter, London-based Valerie Wiffen’s latest show of work opens in east London next month and continues to develop and explore her deep interest in work made from exhibits in museums and collections along with with a new group made in parks, gardens and woods – city farms with their creatures being a favourite of Wiffen. All the paintings and drawings are made from direct observation because Wiffen, a graduate of the Royal College of Art painting school who won the Drawing Prize on graduation, is a highly accomplished figurative painter of great conviction.

valerie wiffen drawingDrawing by Valerie Wiffen

Listing Watteau as a favourite draughtsman and Bonnard as a well-loved painter, she states: “I realised early in my career that I engage with the same timeless, monumental, abstract qualities of light, space, form, tone, colour and texture that all painters must, whatever the ethos of their work. However, I have always been fascinated by the knife-edge balancing act of good observed work. Clearly, it is illusory, creating the image of the missing third dimension on a flat surface, with the medium in evidence.

valerie wiffen drawingDrawings by Valerie Wiffen

Another element of her observational work is portraiture and Wiffen’s noted commissions include Sir Sigmund Sternberg (National Portrait Gallery); Sir Gavyn Arthur as Lord Mayor, City of London (Guildhall Art Gallery); Rabbi Doctor Louis Jacobs (The Jewish Museum); HRH The Duke of Edinburgh (Collection of the Board of Deputies); Dr Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury with Mrs Carey (The Sternberg Centre); Dr Singhvi as High Commissioner for India (The Bhavan Centre). She has has a highly successful academic career which has spanned further, higher and adult education and continues at the Hampstead School of Art and West Dean College.

valerie wiffen drawingDrawings by Valerie Wiffen

“At the same time, I hope to give the viewer an eye-witness account, a faithful image of what I saw, through the emphasis and selections that I made. (No photography is used as reference material, as a camera is a mechanical device and cannot select or interpret.) If the illusion succeeds, anyone at any time or place will be able to breach the barriers that divide us, even if only for a moment,” she says.

valerie wiffen drawingDrawings by Valerie Wiffen

“My aim is to enable the viewer to look through my eyes and see what I saw. It is the lure of this profound human experience that has guaranteed my commitment to representational work.”

by Caroline Simpson

Her latest show Open Spaces & Public Places An Exhibition of Drawings & Paintings by Valerie Wiffen ARCA opens on May 20 until July 20 at The Broadway Bookshop, 6 Broadway Market, Hackney E8 4QJ Tel: 020 7241 1626

Please RSVP to attend the opening night May 20: books@broadwaybookshophackney.com

Opening hours (Mon – Sat: 10 am – 6 pm / Sun: 11 am – 5 pm) and continues until 20 July
For further information, visit here