A light burns late into the Staithes night from the old Wesleyan Chapel in Staithes where artist Rob Shaw has his studio.
While many artists go to Staithes for its wonderful opportunities for plein air painting, Rob, who lives in the village, is a studio painter, enclosed for long solitary hours pursuing images that will encapsulate the experience of being part of the place.
He is out and about at all times of day and night, in all weathers, sometimes with a sketchbook, sometimes a camera, sometimes simply gazing on a scene.
But it’s in the studio that the magic occurs.
“Well, not always,” Rob admits. “I’m very restless and rarely satisfied that I’ve achieved what I set out to do.
“But it’s always exciting and when it’s going well ... yes it is magical … for a while at least.”
His exhibition Resilience opens at Staithes Gallery on Saturday May 28.
Rob’s paintings have always been about resilience. His formative acquaintance with Staithes as a young man alongside his early background in architecture combined from the earliest paintings in a fascination with the higgledy-piggledy dwellings apparently tumbling down the cliffs towards the North Sea.
The rickety and exposed façade, however, belies the stubborn resistance with which these dwellings, boats and breakwaters hold fast and defy all that the sea and sky can hurl at them: built structure and natural force held in equilibrium.
When Rob leaves the village to paint cities further afield the same principles apply – the townscape with its great cathedrals, mighty towers and stately bridges is still, nevertheless, a human shelter standing up to history and weather, time and tide.
But perhaps the greatest resilience of all is that required of the artist himself – forever striving, never satisfied, a constant challenge both to himself and to his viewers.
Rob’s long-awaited exhibition is the result of many hours, days, weeks and years spent in the studio endeavoring to create from raw material, works of art that delight the eye, stir the emotions and disturb the soul.
Staithes Gallery is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 5pm.
Call 01947 841840 or visit www.staithesgallery.co.uk to find out more.