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David Hastie - Thinking Spaces: Dr. Peter Wakelin

The first work I saw by David Hastie was a vast array of railway sleepers, laid out in the cavernous interior of a barn at Coed Hills Rural Artspace, the self-run artists' centre near St Hilary in The Vale of Glamorgan. The massiveness of these heavy timbers, which seemed to bear the scars and memories of millions of wagons, was emphasised by a miniature cart and scaled-down track. Sculptures like this by Hastie have become well known, taking centre stage at the National Eisteddfod, Swansea's Locws International, and other exhibitions. In a sense they are subjectless, apart from the associations of their real, reused materials; but they create a space of melancholy imagination where many things can be considered.

This exhibition, specially devised for Brava, is a departure for Hastie in consisting of paintings rather than sculptures and installations. However, the same meditative, melancholic mood is at its centre. In his sculptures, Hastie uses found materials which have their own histories, like sleepers, hay, roofing lead, corrugated iron and sand. Similarly, in these paintings, he has used sand and straw scratched from the barn-floor of his studio to make depths and textures for his oil paint. His blue-greys echo melancholy, contemplative interiors; his gold and yellow light and nature. He does not wish to suggest subjects or ideas, but simply to create spaces to enter and consider. Nevertheless, like the abstract works in similar materials of Alberto Burri or the great Catalan artist Antoni Tapies, these works readily become freighted with metaphysical symbols and private feelings, making them inherently poetic.

Dr. Peter Wakelin: Brava: 2001