STAITHES artist and printmaker Ian Mitchell will exhibit his landscapes of the Yorkshire coast and countryside at Scarborough’s Stephen Joseph Theatre this summer.

Landlines can be seen in the theatre’s gallery from June 17 to August 31.

Mitchell's digital "delineation of the landscape" is based on a stripped-down reality, paying homage to early 20th-century travel posters,while also drawing on the reductive style of German and Swiss design of the same period.

"Using my original sketches and photographs, I work digitally to refine and reduce the source material down to minimalist forms and shapes, discarding clutter and using artistic licence," he says.

Mitchell started this journey 20 years ago when he began experimenting with software from his background as a graphic designer.

"I’m always in search of the ‘view’, but looking towards a minimal reductive outcome," he says. "For me, it’s all about the design, composition and aesthetics of a view.

"My representation is often cheated and either exaggerated or underplayed, but the interpretation is always based on a reality. The viewer brings their own experiences to the reading of the work."

Mitchell's work to date has been rooted in the British Landscape tradition of natural scenery. "However, I'm increasingly drawn to contemporary man-made landscapes: the concrete modernism of urban architecture, bridges and the sea defences," he says.

"For example, I recently made a series of prints that addressed the subject of motorway architecture and modernity for a solo exhibition at Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole."

Always in pursuit of a "minimal outcome", Mitchell uses the latest digital technology at his disposal as he experiments with print on to various commercial substrates, such as metal, glass and highly reflective surfaces.

"Working in my studio overlooking the Staithes harbour on the once busy coast, I'm conscious of how man has altered the built environment throughout history depending on his needs and I'm drawn to creating a modern landscape symbol of our time," he says.

Mitchell's distinctive printmaking combines his fascination with landscape, aesthetics, design, logo and symbols, represented in his application of digital, lithograph, collage and commercial materials

"By working digitally and reductively, I strip away the topographical and stylise the landscape to create a logo-type symbol of an actual place," he says. "In doing so, I've developed a visual approach that mediates the traditional conventions of landscape and the Modernist aesthetic."

A commission for Arup [the engineering and design company], gave Mitchell the opportunity to explore water. "Since then I've been developing this theme, and in my Harbours series I'm conscious of how man intervenes with natural forces, and my own intervention builds on that to produce an image that the viewer might read as a signifier of place."

Now comes Landlines, an exhibition that will reward you for arriving early for the S JT's summer-season shows, Richard Harris's Stepping Out and Alan Ayckbourn's revival of Season's Greetings.

Ian Mitchell: Landlines, Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, from June 17 to August 31. The gallery is open from 10am to 6pm, Mondays to Saturdays, except during show times. Entry is free.

Ian Mitchell and his wife, fellow artist Stef Mitchell, run Staithes Studios Gallery, High Street, Staithes, open April 3 to October each year, Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to pm.

Charles Hutchinson