Pat Keay’s exhibition at the Scarf Gallery in Crystal Palace is a wonderfully vibrant series of paintings and drawings that explore lighting, color, pattern, and the imagination.
There are three collections, each in different rooms within the Scarf Gallery. Fittingly, the first collection of paintings incorporates the patterns and colors of Sarah Campbell’s scarves on display on the ground floor. Keay draws inspiration from these vibrantly colored patterns for the backgrounds of her still-life paintings. She creates a balance between the patterns of the background with the shapes, colors, and textures of the objects in the foreground, drawing out the similarities between two seemingly different objects.
After descending a quaint spiral staircase, you will enter a plum-colored room with Pat Keay’s “Westerton Series” hung on the walls. In this series, Keay depicts atmospheres and environments seen through screens and barriers, such as trees, vines, and hedges. Inspired by a visit to Scotland, the compositions explore natural landscapes rendered in rich colors and dynamic brushstrokes, and seem to have Impressionistic influences in her close attention to the depiction of light.
The broad range of colors found in the spectrum of light is explored in these scenes, and she infuses each scene with a sense of reality mixed with the bright types of color schemes only found in the imagination. Each work depicts a heightened sense of reality, of the physical world seen through the lens of an imaginative spirit.
In the last room, we find Keay’s “Lyric Series,” which she describes as her “imaginative and emotional response to the words and meanings of significant sings from [her] past.” It is clear that, rather than directly representing physical scenes, she delves into her imagination to create abstract images.
Keay told me that she created these works like a stream of consciousness, listening to a particular song and releasing her emotions and imagination onto paper. Though not as colorful as the other series, this “Lyric Series” is just as dynamic and spirited in its monochromatic schemes and abstract compositions. The muses of her work, the eight songs she drew inspiration from, play in the room, and it is quite clear which work corresponds to which song because of Keay’s masterful ability to sense subtleties of song and to depict emotion.
Having returned to London after living in Kenya for 21 years, Pat Keay draws from her broad range of visual experiences in her environs to depict scenes, both physical and abstract, with strong attention to the subtleties of lighting within diverse spaces.
Make sure to stop by the Scarf Gallery in Crystal Palace. It is charming, colorful, and quaint, and be sure to have a chat with the super-friendly Keith and Pat.
The exhibition ends on 31 May. For further details, please visit: www.thescarfgallery.co.uk.