Deborah Westmancoat is a contemporary painter based in Somerset, UK. She is engaged in a long term project researching the four stages of classical alchemy – nigredo (blackening), albedo (whitening), citrinitas (yellowing) and rubredo (reddening) – in relation to the natural environment, considering how each stage might help us to understand landscape and our place within it. Paintings begin in the quiet places where these stages become apparent and are made as a direct result of first hand experience within the landscape.
Informed by local flooding, past works have focused on a visual understanding of nigredo, the dark, formless first state of alchemy as experienced through the element of water. As part of the making process, panels were repeatedly immersed in black writing ink and local flood waters. Each time the previous story was washed away and a new story ‘written’ upon the surface. These durational works were an attempt to understand the nature of beginnings, of how the movement of water can alter the ‘known’ over time and how our psyche is affected by the temporary loss of the familiar in our environment. Recent paintings relating to albedo, the second stage of alchemy, have included samples of moonlit stream water, icicles, hoar frost and hailstorms. Organic materials collected from each site, particularly oak galls, often contribute to pigments used in the process.
Deborah is currently undertaking a Masters degree in Fine Art at Bath Spa University. She exhibits frequently, throughout the UK and internationally, and was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries in 2014, becoming a Royal West of England Academy Artist Network member in 2015. Her work is held in many private and public collections and has been featured in a range of publications including Internationale Kunst Heute, British Vogue, Fresh Paint International and the Morton Casa de Subastas: Arte Britannico Contemporaneo 2015.