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#ContemporaryArtMonday: Diana Croft and the Surrey Hills

Posted 15th January 2018
Watts Contemporary Gallery

Diana Croft and 60 years of the Surrey Hills AONB

Diana Croft is a painter and printmaker who specialises in linocuts and collagraphs inspired by nature and the landscape. Born in Whitstable in 1959, Diana completed a degree in Illustration at Brighton University, before moving to London to work as an assistant to the well-known printmaker Brenda Hartill. Here, she developed her knowledge of experimental collagraph techniques and spent time perfecting the editioning skills required for printing large, highly textured etchings and collagraphs.

Diana's prints are often stylised representations of landscapes; she is interested in conveying the essence of a place. Her inspiration is rooted in nature and her immediate environment, which has ranged from Reigate in Surrey (where she is now based), to Brunei in Borneo, where she lived for a year with her family during the 1990s.

Most recently though, Diana's work has responded to the beauty and varied terrains of the rolling Surrey Hills. Shortlisted for Surrey Artist of the Year 2015, it is these 'ploughed fields and skeleton trees' that make up some of Diana's most striking pieces.

This might not come as a great surprise to those of us who, like Diana, are fortunate enough to call Surrey home.

Long recognised for its bucolic splendour, the Surrey Hills has been a source of inspiration for artists and creatives for generations – our very own Wattses included. In 1958, it was one of the first regions in the UK to be designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in recognition of its scenic diversity: lush woodlands, heathy commons, chalky grasslands, and the highest point in South East England, Leith Hill, which at 290m offers views of up to 13 counties on a clear day.

This year is a significant milestone for the Surrey Hills AONB as it marks the 60th anniversary of this designation. That's sixty years of conservation, care, and commitment to enhancing the natural and cultural heritage of the Surrey Hills.

In all, there's perhaps no better time than to get out on the North Downs Way, amble over to Watts Gallery – Artists' Village and see Diana Croft: Colour Pattern Texture, at the Watts Contemporary Gallery until 18 February.

Banner image: Diana Croft, Up and Over, Linocut
Side images: Diana Croft, The Race Blue Orange, Linocut
Diana Croft, Late Summer Downs, Reduction Linocut