Simon Carter lives on the Essex coast, close to the beaches and salt marshes that are the source material for most of his paintings. Although he spends time each week drawing in the landscape, the watercolours are all made in the studio. Carter makes them in order to think about the canvases he is working on, using the developing compositions as a way of structuring the watercolours. He tries to make them directly and simply, although some of them are scrubbed back and reworked several times. He aims to let the paint do its own thing – flow, spread, stain, granulate, bleed and layer.
Carter is an artist and curator who was born in Chelmsford, Essex in 1961. He studied at Colchester Institute (1980–81) and then North East London Polytechnic (1981–84). In 2013 he collaborated with artist Robert Priseman to form the artist led group Contemporary British Painting and then the East Contemporary Art Collection, the first dedicated collection of contemporary art for the East of England which is housed at the University of Suffolk, Ipswich.
Carter is President of Colchester Art Society and has been Artist-in-residence at the University of Essex and Firstsite, Colchester. He is represented internationally by Messum’s.
Carter has recognised for a long time that Peter Coker is part of his North Essex landscape. Although never taught by him, and never having met him, Carter was aware of Coker’s presence at Mistley, and of his work through Epping 1964 held in the Colchester Art Society’s permanent collection. Coker’s work has always struck Carter as balanced between intense observation and robust, visible and inventive handling of paint. Carter gravitates to painting where the mechanics of its construction are visible, and like Coker finds he needs the painting process to be governed by observation and a grappling with how observation can be best fixed in the paint.
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