Peter Batten writes about a local man
I have been living in Hove for almost nineteen years. One of the rewards which Nikki and I have come to recognise is the ever-growing Brighton Festival. From the year 2000 we began to explore the Open Houses and to admire the many talented people who display their work. If you have never visited any of these mini galleries you have missed a rich experience. Yes, the work is varied in media, style, presentation and quality, but everywhere you will have the chance to discover unique artefacts and meet people with a personal style and vision.
I believe it was in 2001 that we first climbed the stairs to a studio in Goldstone Villas and met the painter Dion Salvador Lloyd (pictured above). Since then we have returned many times. We have come to know him and to appreciate the quality of his work. Dion was born in Brighton in 1967. His father was a sculptor and a vintage car collector. For some years Dion worked in London hotels, with no thought of an artistic career. His life was changed quite suddenly when a disastrous fire destroyed all his possessions. He took six months off, travelled widely and reassessed his life. He began to paint. Soon he began to realise that his sensitive response to nature and his love of music could form the basis of a very personal artistic vision.
Let me explain my own interpretation of Dion’s work. I believe that we still live in a cultural period which began more than 200 years ago. More and more people – and not just artists, poets and musicians – began to be fascinated by the beauty and strangeness, and the sometimes menacing power, of the natural world. This fascination inspired a still-growing exploration of everything that surrounds us.
We have learned to value the experiences which that exploration provides. In an important discussion of his own response to nature, the poet Wordsworth talks of “emotion recollected in tranquillity”, the ability to recall scenes and experiences which have moved us. That beauty and strangeness, he suggests, can be stored in our minds and returned to for pleasure, meditation and even for solace.
I believe that when Dion began to paint, his work was shaped by this 200 year old vision. He was attracted by nature and the landscape, but instead of working to capture it literally, he began to produce pictures which emerged from numerous memories and feelings. At the same time, he must have been developing the technique which would enable him to capture that vision in his work.
Let Dion speak for himself:
(My) works are not pictures of places but rather the atmosphere and sense of place made physical; marks are not made to describe but to elicit and emote, to forge connections. The paintings are invitations to travel and dream, full of suggestions and familiarity; we have been here before.
Dion’s work is still evolving, but his reputation is now well established, far beyond Hove. Many people have discovered the therapeutic value of his work. He offers them pictures which are invitations to relax, to meditate, even to come to terms with the pain which life can bring. One man’s vision can influence the lives of many others.
Dion’s Open House was just one of the many fascinating venues which our Festival offered us in the past month. The fusion of skill and imagination in the work of the talented artists and craftspeople who exhibit here every year is something which we should enjoy. Recently our city was named as the place in England with the largest concentration of intelligent, educated people.
We should also take pride in the fact that so many creative and gifted artists wish to visit here, to work here and to share their work with us.
In August Dion will have an Open Studio in Ringmer as part of the Artwave Festival.