The Fens are perhaps the least loved landscape in Britain. For some reason the flatness of this huge area of Eastern England does not capture the heart. It is a landscape that does not fit into the ideal of a rolling “green and pleasant land”. They are, on the other hand as flat as a billiard table and to most people, featureless and grim. It is an industrial landscape reclaimed from the sea by Vermuyden and Bedford filled with rows of regimented crops growing in the black soil. The wind blows from from the east and is cold and nagging. The people who live there appear, like the wind, cold and unfriendly. It is for all these reasons I feel so at home painting in the Fens.

Most of Britain’s rural landscape has been forged over time by farmers and is a totally unnatural manufactured facade. This is even more true in the Fens. Almost every inch has been fought for and is still being drained today via hundreds of miles of ditches, drains and rivers that crisscross the land. The constant draining and erosion caused by the wind and the soil oxidizing means the land is sinking and will one day be surely reclaimed once again by the sea. It is a landscape that feels fragile and brittle that hovers between over draining and flooding, in between the sky and the sea.

As I sit and paint here, I am always struck by how few people inhabit this place. I am nearly always alone. The only sounds are distant tractors, the calls of lapwings, warblers and the cry of Marsh Harriers. It seems that peoples fear of flatness keeps the Fens empty. Flatness also changes everything when you look into the distance. Distances becomes hard to judge and perspective seems altered from the normal making it like no other place in Britain. It is this flatness that protects the Fens and makes it one of the best kept secrets of our landscape. It is place full of strange stories, myths, strange place names and strange people. It is a landscape that is on the outside of a world that exists beyond the horizon.


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Fred Ingrams was born in 1964. He studied at Camberwell and St. Martins Schools of Art. 
For ten years he painted above the Coach & Horses pub in Soho, whilst exhibiting in various central London galleries.
He has worked as a graphic designer and art director on many magazines including: Sunday Times, The Field, Tatler,
Vogue and House & Garden. In 1998 he moved to Norfolk where he paints and draws both nudes and landscapes from life.
He has spent the last eight years painting The Fens.

Photographs by Christopher Drake

 

Selected Exhibitions

July 1987  Group show – Christopher Hull Gallery, Motcomb St. London

August 1987  Group show – Birch & Conran Gallery, Dean St. London

Sept 1987  Group show – Diorama Gallery, Regents Park, London

January 1988  One man show – The Groucho Club, Dean St. London

June 1988  Group show – Richmond Gallery, Cork St. London

July 1988  One man show – The Albermarle Gallery, London

August 1989  Group show – Richmond Gallery, Cork St, London

July 1989  Group show – Takeaway Gallery, Portobello Rd, London

July 1991  One man show – Rebecca Hossack Gallery, Windmill St, London

April 1992  One man show – Bruton Street Gallery, London

May 1993  One man show – Bruton Street Gallery, London

April 1996  One man show – Park Walk Gallery, London

October 2009  Group show – Hampshire Art Fair

May 2010  Group show –  Art in the Park, Norfolk

March 2011  Inspirations 2011 – Group show, Norwich

June 2011  Group show – Group Eight, 18|21 Gallery, Norwich, Norfolk

May 2015  One man show - VANISHING LINES - Art Bermondsey, London

Feb 2016  One man show - FLAT EARTH - Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge

Dec 2016  One man show - DITCH - Art Bermondsey Project Space, London

April 2017  One man show - NEW PAINTINGS - Lynne Strover Gallery, Cambridge

 

Feature in Vogue, June 2015