Figurative, landscape, animal art. There’s not many genres that critically acclaimed contemporary fine artist, Wendy Corbett (b. Birmingham, 1953) hasn’t (much more than) dabbled in since turning professional, all of which she’s approached and executed, compositionally-speaking with much gusto and a depth of beauty and elaboration seldom witnessed. Although art itself nearly didn’t happen at all for Corbett, as during her schooling – despite taking Art at A-Level standard - she was convinced that she was destined to work with animals, rather than palettes and brushes. But then Corbett was talked out of following a career in this arena by her teachers who suggested that she thought about getting what they referred to as a ‘real job’ instead. The very reason that Corbett ended up pursuing a teaching profession in the event.
Unfortunately school career guidance isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, and it wasn’t long before Corbett decided that she’d made a terrible mistake opting to do teacher training and shortly after quit this line, now seemingly bereft of just what vocational path she was destined to follow in life. Immediately after, Corbett took on a raft of jobs, including the fairly sublime, farming to the faintly ridiculous, fork lift truck driving, essentially drifting aimlessly from once false dawn to another. It wasn’t until she was heading towards her late 30s that Corbett settled on one particular direction in life, when she worked as a sign writer alongside her father, originating all manner of hand-rendered lettering. That was of course up until the advent of computer technology, which put a somewhat abrupt and unceremonious end to that.
However, all the time Corbett had been experimenting with her own, personal art in the background, specifically developing her animal art, which had in itself brought about invites for several commissions around this time. This allowed Corbett to explore different mediums, materials and techniques too. Having lived her life to this point in, perhaps it’s fair to note, an unconventional, largely unplanned fashion, makes it easier to understand Corbett’s next, previously unseen move. Having always dreamt of living by the sea, Corbett one day made a snap decision to up sticks and relocate to Devon; with the ultimate goal of becoming a full-time artist.
Corbett made Devon her home for a number of years thereafter, and was suffice to say surrounded at every turn by mesmerising and hugely inspirational land and seascapes and rural vistas and panoramas that would tempt a non-painter to reach for the brushes on a good day. Based in Devon, Corbett immersed herself in her new surrounds courtesy of her art, seeking to capture her new environs on a selection of compositions. Eventually she found the courage to knock on the door of a local art gallery, situated in Kingsbridge close to her home, after it changed hands, feeling that then would be a good time to introduce herself and her art as a commercial blank canvas as such. Clearly excited by what they witnessed the gallery owner offered to showcase some of Corbett’s portfolio work, which effectively provided her with the shop window – and consequent big break – that allowed her belated career as a professional artist to take off.
Exhibiting with them on many occasion since, before long Corbett’s work appeared on the commercial radar of Washington Green, one of the UK’s foremost fine art publishers who help launch and provide on-going support for many of the country’s leading exponents of their genre, by the mass reproduction of selected limited edition prints amongst other things. Aside from their helping hand, Corbett has also submitted work to – and consequently have pieces selected for – P.A.W.S, a national wildlife art competition, which Corbett bagged a ‘Monochrome Section’ award for on one occasion, whilst also having overseen her work exhibited at the ‘Society of Wildlife Artists’ exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London.
Today Corbett calls home Lancashire, but having waved goodbye to Devon she now has the equally beautiful Lake District National Park only a short car ride away; plus, she still relies on visual reference points that she originated while living there and ensures that she regularly revisits the West Country when time allows. It’s not only Corbett’s surroundings that have changed again in recent years, as her own specific brand of art has seen a change of direction too. Despite making her compositional name via her predominantly pastel-cemented contemporary sea and landscapes, Corbett has of late returned to the study of the human form, centering on figurative pieces and the compelling visual narrative which stems from this wholly different illustrative realm.
This evolution of style sees far greater fluidity of movement from her muses, and has brought about the graphic fostering of a far more looser, flexible style to her brushworks than previously acknowledged, with sweeping flow and dramatic impact key to each individual piece. Speaking on the subject of change, and the benefits that this can present to an artist, Corbett says; “I do believe that as an artist my work has to develop and change direction in order for me to be inspired and for my work to remain fresh,” before adding; “It is a process I enjoy and one I shall continue to explore, who knows where it may lead.”