Ingleby Gallery, Edinburgh, until Sat 22 Nov
Recalling poet laureate John Masefield’s most famous poem, Sea Fever (‘I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide / Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied’), Untitled (Seascapes), Forster’s first solo exhibition in Scotland, is a spume-flecked revelation. These 45 detailed works, the result of many months’ intensive work are near photographic rectangular pencil drawings mounted on light gray board and housed in light pine frame document. Their trajectory maps the ever-changing nature of the sea.
In some of the images froth and foam encompass the tide line, while in others the spray makes the image go fuzzy, the journey around this delightful space taking on the resonance of Eadweard Muybridge’s zoopraxiscope early motion studies (with just a hint of Frank Meadow Sutcliffe’s studies of the Whitby harbour)). Forster uses the power of repetition to examine both the universality of the feelings brought about by simply staring at an encroaching or retreating tide. His graphite drawings travel from light to dark, hyper-real to grainy and misty abstraction.
Ultimately, this collection of deceptively simple images is a meditative work, one informed more by infinitesimal variations than anything else. Time spent circumnavigating this space will pay off for those of a laid-back disposition, as Michael Bracewell points out in his eloquent catalogue introduction: ‘In tone and temper, Forster’s drawings of the sea inspire both contemplation and wonder, their fidelity to nature seems to edify the viewer.’