Thursday, 24 October 2013

The Island

Before we opened the gallery in Burnham, I used to occasionally visit to collect cards and books from the late lamented Saltwater Gallery.  I never met Harry Cory Wright but formed a strong image  of him in my mind's eye.  An aged wiry individual with a trim beard and eccentric behaviour using a huge antique plate camera. Sometime soon after we opened I found myself talking to this young man who jogged past the door most mornings. Ten years younger than me and (nearly) clean shaven. This apparently was Harry.

Over the next 6 years, our paths have continued to cross and our conversations have rambled. Saltwater closed and Smokesilver opened and then closed. At some point, halfway down Front Street I met Felicity Binyon. To be correct, I met her again, as she had shown her work with us in Norwich when we first started.  The only thing was that this time it emerged that she was in Burnham by reason of being Harry's mother-in-law.

Sometime later Overy Staithe entered my life. Initially as the place where Burnham flirted with the sea, but then as somewhere friends lived and I walked and I looked and I wondered. Working with the Harbour Trust and the Boathouse threw more light on Harry's place in all this. And then two summers ago, Harry and Felicity shared a show of their work at home in the middle of Burnham.

For the first time I saw not his all-seeing large format photographic masterworks but minimal monochrome drawings - or were they paintings?

Whatever they were, they were clearly very Overy. The Island, Gun Hill, the marsh, the creek - all reduced to their bare essentials.  They struck not just a chord, but one which was in harmony with the place and how I saw it. And clearly not just for me judging by the reaction.

Two years on and the further development or distillation of these minimal ideas has produced Harry's exhibition with us - The Island. Some people don't get it and are at a loss as to what it's about. Most do - and many who came along to see it at the opening have returned to look again and again.  Which is a bit like Overy itself.

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