Reflecting on Exeter Quay

Picture - View of the Quay by Rod Ashman

‘View of the Quay’ by Rod Ashman - Credit: Rod Ashman

Alison Summerfield meets Karen Gimlinge, owner of Vandlys Galleri on Exeter Quay, who has chosen a painting called ‘View of the Quay’ by Rod Ashman.

Vandlys, a large, glass fronted gallery situated on the Piazza Terracina, opened in December 2020 and represents both established and emerging artists from Devon and Cornwall. Printmakers alongside studio ceramics, glass and sculpture make this a most welcome addition to Exeter - lacking as it so clearly does in art galleries.

Vandlys, meaning ‘water and light’, reflects Karen’s Danish heritage, and what she describes as her, ‘obsession with the possibilities of these elements in her own creative practice’, as well as, she says, ‘echoing where the City meets water and light in ever-changing variations’.

Karen Gimlinge, owner of Vandlys Galleri on Exeter Quay,

Karen Gimlinge, owner of Vandlys Galleri on Exeter Quay - Credit: Karen Gimlinge

Preceded by artists such as Phil Creek, Gary Long and Adrian Parnell, Rod is the latest artist to exhibit his work at Vandlys. Karen visited him recently at his studio on the outskirts of Exeter and was immediately drawn to this collage painting of Exeter Quay. As an artist herself, I was keen to hear her thoughts on Rod’s painting.

Karen said: "I was particularly interested in the location of Rod's painting as it focuses on the structure of Cricklepit Bridge, the small suspension bridge which takes its name from the adjacent Cricklepit Mill. I think of a bridge as a metaphor to connect people and places, with their environment."

On Rod’s frequent visits to The Quay and Weir, he makes visual and mental notes concerning the light and colours, shapes and textures. This painting, executed on heavy-duty watercolour paper with acrylic paint, begins with large gestural marks and as, Rod describes, ‘with great freedom of thought and action’.
Rod said: “The first struggle is to reach a certain point where the painting is raw, with some sort of vigorous life and relative truth to the subject.”

Rod then tears the paper and reassembles it so that the painting is in a state of physical flux.
He added: “I will be searching for some sort of structure that interests me. This process continues throughout but tends to be less dramatic towards the end when the work becomes more subtle and complex. I let the painting develop through intuition, knowledge and experience. Working in this way means that the boundaries of the work are not set in stone from the outset and gives a more dynamic feel to the piece.”

Rod is constantly experimenting with materials and media. Whatever the subject, whether working outside or in the studio, Rod is trying to produce a piece work which he explains, ‘is not just a topographical rendering but a search for a synthesis between myself, subject, media, process, memory and time’.
Rod moved to Exeter four years ago, he has a postgraduate in Art from Birmingham and taught for many years at Cheltenham College. He has exhibited widely across the UK and we can now enjoy his work at Vandlys Galleri, Piazza Terracina, The Quay, Exeter. Call 07973 397 032 or email:

See two of Rod's paintings at the South West Academy’s annual open exhibition at Kennaway House from Tuesday, November 2 until Saturday November 13. There will be paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture and ceramics across four rooms. 

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