THE PLANET IS MY PALETTE
Candida 'Cea' Blyth BA Hons
Cea's paintings are an experience of British indigenous art; inspired by the colours, sparkles and textures of the earth as much as by the energies and archetypes that present themselves in the landscape. Her individual style is simple and expressive, with flat areas of colour to show off the unique hues of the Earth.
The paintings are created with pigments, which Cea collects as soil from different locations and then fixes them with 'gum Arabic', a resin from acacia trees. She paints on handmade paper, or hemp canvas (because it has gorgeous texture and grows without the use of chemicals). It is a process of experimentation, taking layer upon layer until the earth painted on the canvas glows at the same intensity as it did in the landscape, revealing something of the spirit of the land itself.
There are around one hundred pigments in Cea’s collection: bright yellow and bluish-grey clays from the banks of the River Ashburn where she lives, cream clay from a favourite swimming spot on the River Dart, deep blood red ochre containing metallic silver sparkles from an old mine in the woods near Bath.
In 2002 she developed a new technique, spreading the pigment using sheep’s wool or a wad of pony hair, under her bare feet. She also makes prints with her body using earth pigments on hemp canvas and handmade paper.
Recently, Cea has been exhibiting her earth pigments in installation form as small tactile cubes, strengthened with hemp straw and animal hair, like a traditional earth plaster. She makes sets of pigment cubes with text spelling out the place where each pigment was sourced. The audience are invited to play and interact with the cubes in fun and educational ways.
Pictured right: Jars of earth piments collected locally in Devon, Dorset and from around the world. Click on the image for a closer look.