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Exploring the Artistic Legacy of Dartmoor: Contemporary Landscapes by Kerry Johnstone

Dartmoor's rugged, windswept landscape has captured the imaginations of artists and poets for centuries. But it wasn't until the 19th century that the area began to attract a significant number of tourists and artists.

The Dartmoor landscape first began to appear in works of art in the late 18th century, when landscape painting was gaining popularity in England. Artists such as Francis Towne and John White Abbott painted scenes of Dartmoor, often using a romantic and idealized approach to depict the landscape. However, it wasn't until the mid-19th century that Dartmoor became a popular destination for artists.

One of the key factors that contributed to the rise of Dartmoor as a tourist and artistic destination was the construction of the South Devon Railway in 1846. The railway made it easier for people to visit the area, and as a result, Dartmoor began to attract more visitors.

Another factor that contributed to the popularity of Dartmoor was the growing interest in nature and the outdoors during the Victorian era. The Romantic movement, which celebrated the beauty of nature, was in full swing, and many people began to seek out natural landscapes for recreation and inspiration. Dartmoor's rugged terrain, wide open spaces, and wild beauty made it an ideal destination for those seeking a connection with nature.

Many artists were drawn to Dartmoor during this period, including members of the Royal Academy. Artists such as John Brett, William Henry Purchase, and William Crossing created works that captured the beauty and grandeur of the landscape. These artists often used a realist approach, depicting the landscape in all its wild and untamed glory.

One artist who has been inspired by Dartmoor's landscape in recent years is Kerry Johnstone. Johnstone's work celebrates the natural beauty of Dartmoor, with a particular focus on trees, rocks, and moorland. Her paintings capture the essence of the landscape, with its rolling hills, dramatic tors, and wide-open spaces.

Johnstone's work is influenced by her deep love of nature and her concern for the environment. She has lived in Malawi, where she witnessed the devastating effects of deforestation, and her work is a reflection of her commitment to preserving and celebrating the natural world.

Through her paintings, Johnstone invites us to connect with the natural world and to appreciate the beauty and complexity of the landscape. Her work is a testament to the enduring appeal of Dartmoor, and to the power of nature to inspire and captivate us.

The visual arts have long been recognized as a powerful means of communication capable of transcending language and cultural barriers. Contemporary artists have increasingly focused on using their creative talents to initiate and engage in dialogues around pressing social and environmental issues. In particular, the issue of environmental degradation has emerged as a pressing concern in contemporary art.

You can discover Kerry's work at Artizan Gallery in their May 2023 "Natural World" showcase alongside works of embroidery artist Chloë Morter. For more information, visit



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