This is a personal and intimate series of paintings by Lindy Guinness, more formally known as Lady Dufferin, Marchioness of Dufferin and Ava and is her first exhibition representing exclusively interiors. After exhibiting Lindy’s landscape paintings as part of our Ivon Hitchens & his lasting influence exhibition, I was researching the history of the private interior in painting and what had provoked this fashion. I asked Lindy if she would be interested in painting a series of interiors of her house, Clandeboye in Northern Ireland. I was curious to see how the interpretation of this subject matter would differ to her landscapes. With winter approaching the lamp lit rooms and fireside evenings beckoned. The result is this astonishing body of work made with such enthusiasm and joie de vivre, you wouldn’t believe Lindy was simultaneously running The Clandeboye Estate, building factories, engaging her local community of children with Forest School, and establishing a foundation for scholarly engagement with environmental endeavours.
Lindy describes these paintings as her ‘quiet place’, her escape from the furore. Being deaf Lindy can remove her hearing aids and fall into a reverie of vision, all her senses are channelled and she is consumed. Unwittingly she became drawn to the source of light in these historic rooms, the elongated windows of this Soanian building, the tall apertures, spilling cool splits of low light, romantic and quiet. Memories of conversations and parties past are felt in these paintings, with titles including The Morning After, The Secret Encounter, Empire Discussions and Old Loves, Long Stories Lindy gives us a glimpse into her memories of these spaces and the nostalgia they hold.
Painting the private interior is something attributed in art history to Johannes Vermeer in the 1660s. A break from tradition when interiors would have been formal records of Religious or public spaces. The tradition of documenting personal rooms was very stylised and formal in Europe until the middle of the 19th century. At the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th, the paintings became more impressionistic, more relaxed and suggestive of homely environments. These largely serve as historical documents, recording a time and place. These paintings by Lindy Guinness record the experience of a place, they are not concerned with being historical documents despite the importance of Clandeboye to the artist, but serve instead as a record of memory and feeling. Despite their simplicity, they possess deep energy. These almost icon like paintings blend the frivolity of Fragonard, the romanticism of Turner and the colour of Bonnard. As a client recently said to me about an artwork, ‘when it talks, it talks’, and these talk in whispers and winks.