Geology inspires


“Have travelled up and down the Eastern Seaboard... around 4 thousand miles and more. ...Most of it done in a small aeroplane - absolutely beyond description, the travel, the experience, the landscape... breath-taking, taking it in from a tiny aircraft... brown and green and hazy blues, hues of red subdued by a turn of Winter. Indescribable Robin just indescribable... No painting or poem could phrase or frame such a picture.”

The first of Ribeiro's geologically-inspired paintings emerged following his travels to North America. For his 1986 exhibition at New Walk Museum, Patrick Boylan noted these were ‘often reminiscent of gently folded and contorted geological strata’. Ribeiro's oils and PVA mixes produced even surfaces of paint capturing the stratification of rock, as in the Accented Landscapes which Patrick would eventually acquire into the museum's collection.

His ‘Line Curve’ constructions, as on the 1986 catalogue, carried the painted image across the edges of two or more shallow canvasses. Distinctive fluid landscapes were painted primarily in pastel shades of blue, green and purple reminiscent of gently-folding geological strata.

From 1974 onwards, a new series of watercolours conveyed the features of Cumbria and the Lake District. Later, writing to Boylan, Ribeiro confided:

“I did not attach any seriousness to them [watercolours] until recently. They gave me a lot of joy, were extremely relaxing and perhaps levitational. I've never enjoyed doing any of my other work which has always been compulsive.”

In 1980, Ribeiro moved into an attic flat in London's Belsize Park and noted to several friends that the constraints of space meant he could only really work - at least initially - on a small scale. Living close to Hampstead Heath, a new series of finely-detailed grass and tree scenes started to appear, often reflecting the Heath through seasonal change, and dominated - as in his 1960s townscapes - by a visible or semi-visible sun or moon.

In a 2013 talk on the artist, Boylan revealed that these watercolours were never intended for exhibiting but after he had cooked an excellent meal, Ribeiro would pass these around at private dinner parties “like eighteenth century curiosities”.

A photograph of Lancelot Ribeiro