As the name suggests, Rolls’ series of paintings have a unifying feature of using locally-found driftwood instead of paper. The oil pastel media adds varying layers to the tactile texture, with some areas of the compositions left virtually untouched. The style of these paintings were quite different to Rolls’ other works, with a different approach to paint application and colour palettes I have not previously seen him experiment with. It was great to see many famous Jersey locations reimagined in such a creative way, and the artisan driftwood canvases meant that no two paintings looked alike.
A lovely touch to the gallery was the standard name labels for each piece which were replaced by found cigarette lighters with hand-written names. This added to the handmade feel of the pieces, as well as bringing an unusual man-made contrast to the otherwise natural focus.
Rolls has a unique style which is well recognised islandwide, with unusual compositions and a drawing technique that brings a new life to Jersey landscapes. He is known to draw with his non-dominant left hand to achieve more expressive mark making, which results in playful forms and shapes throughout his artwork.
I was lucky enough to be invited to the private opening last night, which was the perfect setting and atmosphere for the exciting new paintings. The small National Trust building Le Don Hilton, or ‘white house’, on St. Ouen’s sea front currently houses the artworks, whose size meant that the experience was intimate and personal.
As the sky flushed with brilliant orange and pink, the whipped waves began to lap over the breakwater, ushering in the fading evening – but the celebration of the artist’s achievements continued on into the night.