More than most artists Matt Bodimeade has had a direct effect on the landscape he describes in his drawings. Through early adulthood employment in Agriculture he was able to change the colour shape and texture of fields through cultivation and harvesting processes. Mechanical mark making on a large scale but with perhaps a bit too much methodical order.
Its midday as Matt drives into a field on the brow of a hill and leans a drawing board against the side of his truck. "It's like hunting" he says. "Searching for a starting point like that line of poppies. Or that clump of trees spreading down the hill like a fat bloke's belly over his belt." Using oil pastel and charcoal in sweeping marks the A1 sheet fills with colour and form. He works carefully but swiftly, blending colours with his fingers and scraping back with a blade.
At his studio he might trim the paper down in size: "But it contains all the information needed. It's a constant process of refining and editing." He's not concerned about recording a moment for posterity or creating a historical document.
"I keep reminding myself that it's my landscape and I can deal with it how I want."
Matt takes his sketches back to his studio. It's a small, cluttered, low ceilinged, badly lit space with virtually no natural light. And what there is isn't north facing. There are two fluorescent tubes he has to stoop to get underneath. Charcoal sketches, photographs and pastel drawings are pinned to boards or slide off surfaces onto the floor, acres stuffed into inches.
Talking to Matt in the landscape and then seeing his work evolve in his studio, it's clear his response to this part of West Sussex is a deep, complex and intelligent mixture of feelings and memories formed over nearly forty years. He presents what he sees with extreme care, honesty and understanding of the landscape yet he is unsentimental about it and responsive to change. He neither wants nor expects it to remain exactly how it is. His love for the land is unconditional and that goes as much for vast sweep of the chalk downs, as for the railway to London tunnelling through them, or for the plastic cobalt blue fertilizer bags stacked in a pre-fab barn.