The Hawthorn doesn't appear like a typical tree, more an unstructured confusion of thorns, blossom and branches, tangled up in every direction, and seemingly impossible to draw. Andrew Gifford's first, minutely observed spring studies were to form the start of a series of increasingly complex paintings of Hawthorns and woodland made over the next three years and across every season.
In early 2020 Gifford began to paint within the woods themselves. Like the Hawthorns, the coppiced woodlands he walked through shared the same mesmerising, unstructured chaos. “I wanted to make paintings that immersed you in the woods, where your senses could be overwhelmed by the confusion of branches and brambles and sunlight. After the Hawthorns, the woods were a different challenge – I had to find compositions that could work as paintings, but still felt arbitrary”. Gifford returned most weeks to paint the same place. During the winter months he painted silver birches in the late afternoon sun, but with lockdown and the better spring weather, the woodland floor was transformed with fast-moving, dappled sunlight lighting up clumps of bluebells, nettles and moss and creating new rhythms of colour around the multiple stems of coppiced hornbeams, hazels and birch.