Catherine Forshall’s paintings are a celebration of the natural world. Growing up in Scotland, her love of the sea and the creatures within it began through going mackerel fishing with her father as a young girl. She was never interested in the boat itself, but relished gazing into the watery depths of the Atlantic, glimpsing another world.
Catherine studied in Florence under both Simi and Professor Fantoni, and spent some years living in the Mediterranean where she was able to study and observe fish at close quarters, her paintings combine accurate observation and knowledge of marine species with an expressive fluidity and treatment of the paint surface.
The way water and the creatures within continually shift, create changing formal relationships between shape, light and negative space fascinate her. Despite drawing from fish and molluscs washed up by the tide, she re-invigorates them through the act of painting. Her marks and the multitude of aqueous washes of acrylic, ensure her paintings retain fluidity and motion. There are layers to her paintings: you might be peering through foregrounded seaweed to see the flit and flicker of mackerel in the distance. The way she uses tone and atmospheric perspective ensures that your eye is taken right through the picture plane.
Catherine is an ardent champion of marine conservation, and hopes her paintings will make people aware of the beauty and variety of marine life so under threat. For instance, her focus on native Oysters in this body of work, is to draw attention to the fact they are currently in decline.
Catherine states that her garden paintings are ‘a completely different part of her but are equally important.’ Summers are spent in her small farm in France, surrounded by an abundant vegetable patch and laden fruit trees. She plants only native seeds and plants, so both paintings and garden are rooted in her French summers. She uses pigments from the earth grinding them up and mixing them with the paint, grounding the paintings in the natural world which inspired them. These works were largely painted through the 2020 lockdown. The simplicity and nourishment of painting and gardening during the pandemic was ‘a beautiful thing to do.’ As Catherine wisely states, ‘when the world’s going mad, there is nothing like a vegetable garden.’
Catherine exhibits internationally in galleries in New York, Paris, and London, as well as those closer to her home in the South West of England. She has a solo show planned in London for 2022.