'Giotto's Template', Henrietta Simson

A mountain with a cave and trees at the top

2008, Oil and pigment on gesso board, 48 x 60.5 cm

Artist's statement

I select early Renaissance depictions of space; landscapes that provided the background (supplement) to a scene or story (argument). The landscape elements were secondary and were employed to frame the narrative. I change the format and scale and remove all narrative elements, freeing the spaces from their historical context. This translates the landscapes into a contemporary framework, thereby allowing a direct engagement with them. These alterations and omissions let the landscapes exist as discrete creations rather than subsidiary to the stories they frame. This particular painting is taken from one of Giotto's frescos in the Magdalene Chapel in the Lower Basilica in Assisi.

The title refers to Giotto's technique of repeating this landscape motif in several works in the chapel and also to the fact that his work is considered a model in the development of Renaissance painting, marking the beginning of a certain way of seeing. My paintings show these landscapes removed from their original context. They are painted using traditional materials, but stop short of being identical in their material application. They have travelled from the early Renaissance to the present, acting as
counterpoints to our modern visuality, posing a question for the way we see and represent space.


Born in Crawley in 1971, Henrietta Simson attended UWE Bristol 1990-93 and The Slade School of Fine Art London 2005- 07 (commences MPhil/PhD 2010). Group exhibitions include 'Jerwood Drawing Prize 2005' Jerwood Space London (touring), 'Bloomberg New Contemporaries' A Foundation (Liverpool
Biennial) & Rochelle School London 2006, 'spaces/places/senses/places/senses/spaces' (with Jo Volley) Visual Arts Centre Portsmouth Virginia 2009, 'Lulled into
Believing' (with Esther Teichmann) Man&Eve London 2009 and 'The Borrowed Loop' Man&Eve 2010. Solos include 'Drawing and Painting' Slade Summer School 2007, 'Over the Frontier' Man&Eve 2008, 'Lost Narratives' Slade Research Centre 2008 and presentation in 'Volta NY' (Man&Eve) New York 2010.