December's Featured Work is Towards Norway, a painting that Mark Thompson produced in 1999, while living and working in Scandinavia.
Towards Norway presents a view along an icy, snow-covered road that recedes to a distant point in the centre of the composition. Tall trunks of dark green fir trees stand like sentinels along each side of the road, sharpening the impression of the distance ahead. Thompson uses a striking combination of paint effects and contrasts between opaque white, browns, greys and blues to capture the unique mood of the scene in winter light. Ethereal wisps of mist appear to rise through the woody scene, while textured washes of grey, blue and white describe the milky blueness of snow on a road illuminated by winter light.
Thompson's painting was the last of a series of works that he made in Scandinavia after completing a scholarship which took him to Norway, Lapland and Finland. Towards Norway evolved from his stay in Hetta, a village in the far north of Finland. Each day he walked from his cabin in the woods into the village to collect food and provisions, and then returned to the cabin along the same snow-covered road. Although this was his daily route home, it was also the main road towards the national border between Norway and Finland. Thompson has spoken vividly of his experience of living and walking in this particular spot:
Walking that road in the northern winter half-light had a profound effect on me. I felt inextricably connected to the place, yet able to look at it as if from outside myself. It is a journey that I still struggle to come to terms with. The painting was at that time the closest I came to communicating the experiences.
Mark Thompson was born in Peterborough. After completing a foundation course at the University of Gloucester (1992), he went on to study at the Slade School of Fine Art, London (1993–97). As well as exhibiting his work in the UK, Norway, Iceland and Lithuania, he has also taught in Scandinavia, including a lectureship at the Bergen Kunstacadamiet, Norway, and a residency at Kuusamon Kansanopisto, Finland. Recent exhibitions of his work include a solo show at The Wyer Gallery, London, in 2011 and participation in the group show, At the End of Light, at the Anne Reed Gallery, Idaho, USA, in 2013. Thompson currently lives and works in Germany.