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Artist takes pigment from Derbyshire landscape to create beautiful abstract paintings

A fine art student took pigments from the countryside she was painting to make sustainable colours to create original abstract landscape paintings.

Anya Bell
Anya Bell with two of her paintings

Artist takes pigment from Derbyshire landscape to create beautiful abstract paintings

A fine art student took pigments from the countryside she was painting to make sustainable colours to create original abstract landscape paintings.

Anya Bell, 22, ground down leaves, soil, rocks and grass before mixing them with water taken from streams and a sustainable binder to create new paints that are kind to the environment.

“I wanted to find a way to get closer to the scenes I was painting and to do this in a sustainable way, and so I decided to use the natural resources of the landscapes around me,” said Anya, who took inspiration from the Peak District.

“Art can be bad for the environment, which not everyone realises. For example, acrylic paint can seep into streams when it’s washed down the drain and be damaging.

“So I wanted to use materials which gave a true reflection of what I was painting, which caused no problem for the environment in any way.”

Anya, who wants to become an art teacher when she graduates, used linseed oil and gum arabic as a binder for her paints. She painted onto three large pieces of plywood, rather than canvas, which she had sanded down and primed.

The only colour Anya could not take from the environment was blue, which instead she acquired from a retailer which stocked paints made from naturally derived sources.

Rather than being a realistic reflection of the landscape she is observing, Anya created abstract art to reflect the feelings of the Derbyshire countryside.

“It’s not meant to be figurative or lifelike. The paintings are about the atmospheric part of painting,” said Anya, who is originally from Allestree in Derbyshire.

“Taking the pigment from the natural landscape has changed my whole practice. It’s given me a connection to the landscape and a deeper feeling of the place I’m in.

“It’s also provides a real tactile quality to my work. There are bits of grass and stone that can be seen close up in the paintings.

“People are very aware of the importance of sustainability and this is a great way to adhere to that and portray it.”

The Nottingham Trent University student sees her work go on public display today (26 May) for the university’s 2023 art and design Student Showcase, which is one of the UK’s largest public displays of graduating art and design talent.

Geoffrey Litherland, senior lecturer in Fine Art at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Anya has created original and sustainable colours to create beautiful abstract paintings which denote the feeling she gets when enjoying the Derbyshire countryside.

“It shows how sustainability can be put at the centre of art and form the basis of original materials and works.”

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 26 May 2023
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design