Amidst the sea of fog

A YOUNG artist who left the north west, headed to London, and ended up living in a remote thatched cottage on a Danish island is to have his own exhibition back on home territory.

Adam Fenton, 32, who grew up in Preston but has family roots in Cumbria, is a remarkable artist with an equally remarkable story to tell. He has a BA in Fine Art and History of Art from Goldsmiths in London,  and an MFA from The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Art. After attending the School of Sculpture in Copenhagen, he has worked across many disciplines including painting, plaster casting, bronze, clay, film, installation and has an ongoing dance collaboration with a number of choreographers. He is predominantly painting again these days, and his show Amidst the Sea of Fog will open at the Heaton Cooper Studio archive gallery in Grasmere in June. It’s his first solo UK show for a number of years.

While living in London Adam met a Danish painter, David Dellagi, and they had studios in the same building at Arthub in Deptford. “We made many exhibitions together in London and in Denmark, both with our own works but also we curated group exhibitions of other artists. Knowing David got me curious about what Denmark had to offer and after many visits to Copenhagen, life in that city seemed to fit me much better. I moved there in 2016 to continue to my next chapter of being an artist.”


He has exhibited at the National Gallery of Denmark in 2022 and 2023, Roskilde Museum of Contemporary Art in 2022, as well as being selected to be the artist in residence at Copenhagen's Kulturfabrikken in 2015, where the Afternoon Tea paintings were made.

After seven years later in Denmark, including studying for the MFA,  Adam says he had a yearning for “more space, more nature and the economic freedom that living a self-sufficient life in the countryside could give.

“So, throwing caution to the wind, I bought one of the cheapest houses the Danish housing market had to offer, a half timber frame thatched roofed cottage dating from 1770.” It’s on the island of Lolland. Alongside is a huge barn for studio space, stables for storage and a little under an acre of land. “Here I can be immersed in my sources of inspiration, those being the landscape surrounding me, nature, a simpler way of life, the possibility to grow my own food, keep chickens, learn and practice old handicraft traditions, and of course not forgetting time to paint and sculpt.”


He works part time as a sexton at the local church (a sexton is part verger and cemetery groundskeeper/gardener). He made the series Amidst the Sea of Fog in 2016. “I had been making paintings of landscapes since the age of around 15. My paintings often depicted the landscape from a high-up viewpoint, looking down into a valley or across sprawling moorland. At times, the resultant paintings had a sort of quaint essence to them, kind of postcard like. I played around with this, often putting them into twee frames or using the paintings in installations, treating them like decorative objects.

“That’s not to say that this inherently decorative nature of painting is a negative quality, but at that time, I felt like my painting practice was being slowly pushed into a corner, almost becoming a slightly ironic caricature of itself. This was around the time I made the Afternoon Tea series as well.”

The smaller framed Afternoon Tea paintings reflect the thrift store paintings, “or those anonymous pictures hanging in grandma and grandad’s hallway. The frames and boards they are painted on were actually repurposed objects that I bought in charity shops. But I wished to inject a more dramatic quality into the paintings. I painted the skies just before or just after rainfall. I painted sharp evening light, falling across wooded areas, and windswept trees. I also painted quintessential farmland and Lake District fields.”

After this period, Adam says, he embarked on a journey to make a series of paintings that were more down to earth – literally - involving a viewpoint on plane with his subject matter. That journey took him to Cartmel, on a misty walk with his mother and aunt.

“That walk led me to make the series Amidst the Sea of Fog, paintings larger than I had ever painted before. They portray the landscape as undomesticated and atmospheric. They have a more cinematic quality to them. From afar, they maintain a photorealistic quality, however up close, I allowed my process to be visible. The brushstrokes are unmasked and my playful enjoyment can be seen.”

Does he miss life in the UK? “Yes, I miss the hills. And a good pint.”

The Grasmere exhibition presents five large scale paintings from the Sea of Fog series, alongside a selection of smaller Afternoon Tea paintings.  The exhibition is curated by Julian Heaton Cooper, who says: “On seeing his paintings I was struck by how he has managed that rare trick of having an ironical look at the genre of 'landscape' painting, and yet also producing some genuine, felt landscapes.” The show opens on June 13, running until August 27.

More information:

Instagram: @adamadamfenton 







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