SOULSCAPES, an exhibition of paintings by painter, printmaker, ceramicist and photographer Wendy Tate, will open at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre on March 11 (and not February 4, as first announced). 

A former kennel maid and missionary, Wendy studied for a degree and a masters in painting in the late 1980s, then spent several years as a tutor in Fine Art at Westwood with the Grimsby Institute, when she also exhibited regularly around Britain.

"At first, I concentrated on the figure, and how I could express various human states," she says. "Particularly in relation to the dislocation we can feel between our hearts and the pace and expectation we set ourselves on a daily level, as well as the loneliness and depression that can leave us with.

"I wanted people to look at my work and feel understood; that there was empathy to be found in something that was made out of the same experiences they were feeling."

York Press:

Spring Reflection, by Wendy Tate

After having a family, Wendy hit a brick wall and decided to change her subject matter but wanted to keep the same subtext. "It’s taken several years to find the pictorial language that hopefully expresses a similar thing," she says.

"Nature is often used as a metaphor for human states, and when I’m in the midst of a forest or walking on the beach, I am very aware of the majesty of nature. It helps me put things into perspective again. Sometimes it echoes my mood and I can almost feel empathy from it; that I am not alone in the universe. Someone, something, knows me far more than I know myself."

Wendy walks daily, camera in hand, always ready to photograph what she is experiencing. "I use the images in the making of my paintings and etchings," she says. "They are often peaceful, often worshipful, but can be melancholic and soulful.

"I’m drawn to changing light and reflections. I like the idea that a reflection is just evidence of something real and tangible but maybe out of sight, yet to be encountered; again, an encouragement that we are not walking this journey alone; a seemingly absent presence.

York Press:

Field work: Wendy Tate on one of her walks, camera in hand

"There is often a sense of the sacred in these moments and I hope to share that; to evoke an emotional response, an intimate moment in which the canvas becomes a shared space in which the unspoken is exchanged. When painting, I often become drawn beyond the image I am using into something almost sacred, and spend the remaining painting experience trying to grasp it."

Since being made redundant from Westwood campus, fellow artist Rob Moore and Wendy have set up painting studios and Alma Printmaking Studio in the centre of Scarborough, where they encourage and teach people to express themselves via exploring differing art forms, through workshops, tutorials and one-to-one mentoring.

"It’s a privilege to be exhibiting locally, in such an iconic place," says Wendy. "All the work has been inspired by the landscape in and around Scarborough and it is my hope that it will inspire others to get out there and take comfort in its heartbeat."

Soulscapes runs from March 11 to April 20.​ The SJT gallery is open from 10am to 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays, except during show times. Entry is free.