Leo du Feu's 'Coastal Defence' was produced as part of a commission from Scotrail to depict Scotland's rail-accessible landscape. The scene depicted here is near Aberdeen, and shows a pillbox, one of the old concrete structures built to guard the Scottish coast during the Second World War. The structure is at the centre of du Feu’s landscape, emphasising the isolation of the single man-made object along the vast coastline. Since the war has ended, this pillbox has been left unused, and it has changed from practical architecture to artefact, becoming a part of the landscape itself.
Travel plays an important role in Leo's work, both within the Scotrail project and more broadly. To create his work, he leaves his studio to sketch as he wanders through nature, turning these sketches into finished paintings upon his return. This lends his works a sense of serendipity, the feeling that whatever he depicts has been found or happened upon by chance in the course of a longer adventure, such as this long-abandoned artefact on the Aberdeenshire coast.
Leo takes much of his inspiration from nature, and especially the British landscape. In 'Coastal Defence', he uses the same pigments to create the pillbox and the earth around it, leaving only its geometric shape and the differing texture to distinguish it from the natural world around it. Far from being a depiction of warfare, the landscape is completely silent: the sun casts long shadows, and the sea is calm.
Leo Du Feu was born in 1984 and lives in Linlithgow. He graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2006. Among other things, he is working on a project with Scotrail to explore and paint Scotland’s rail-accessible landscapes: the results of this project will feature in a future publication. He has also won the Royal Over-Seas League Arts Commonwealth Travel Scholarship and the Alexander Graham Munro Travel Award from the Royal Scottish Society of Painters in Watercolour. He has exhibited at the RSW, and at the Royal Scottsih Academy and the Society of Scottish Artists.
Art in Healthcare's blog entry about Leo du Feu