Picture perfect in glorious mud

Adrian Lloyd with his painting of DH Lawrence made from soil to be hung in Eastwood's DH Lawrence Heritage Centre.
Adrian Lloyd with his painting of DH Lawrence made from soil to be hung in Eastwood's DH Lawrence Heritage Centre.

MUD isn’t the usual choice of material when a portrait is commissioned but an Ilkeston artist’s unique new method made him the perfect choice to paint Eastwood author DH Lawrence.

Adrian Lloyd, 43, started painting using soil when he was looking for something extra to do while he was a stay at home dad.

He took a picture of his daughter, Anaya, and wanted to put it onto canvas but couldn’t decide what paints to use.

He took some soil from a family garden and using an ancient technique created a paint pigment from the earth. The result was a sepia style picture that had a sentimental touch thanks to the soil he had used to paint it with.

His business, Ancestral Earth Portraits was born.His next works were a self portrait and his son Kai.

In search of a way to spread the word about his work, Adrian asked Broxtowe Borough Council if he could create an ancestral earth portrait of the town’s most famous son and was thrilled when they said yes to his strange request to dig up soil from the gardens of the homes Lawrence lived in and places linked to his history.

He said: “This piece of work encompasses Lawrence’s life and that of his immediate local relatives. It’s painted using the very land that shaped their lives and made them ‘who’ they were.

“From the coal in the ground, which influenced his grandparents to make clothing for the mining industry, to his fathers’ role as a tough working class miner, which was totally at odds with Lawrence’s romanticised and highly-educated view of the world around him, the sights, the sounds and the smells of the time were captured in the soil I have collected and is still there locked within his portrait.

“This landscape and the places he lived, worked and played influenced DH Lawrence’s literary development and was the catalyst that made him into the man we all know of.”

The portrait, which is on display now at the DH Lawrence Heritage Centre, is of Lawrence at the age of 43.

Sally Nightingale, Heritage Services Manager for Broxtowe Borough Council, said: “It is fitting that as a writer so connected, in his work, to his hometown of Eastwood and the surrounding countryside that Adrian has selected the medium of local soil and our visitor attraction to display his representation of Lawrence.

DH Lawrence Heritage are delighted to display this unique painting of Lawrence at the centre in Mansfield Road, Eastwood, and we welcome visitors wishing to view it.”

After its stint at Durban House the painting will be sent to London’s Royal Academy to be assessed by a panel of judges for their summer exhibition.

To view the painting visit the DH Lawrence Centre from now until March 26.

For more about Adrian’s work visit www.ancestralearthportraits.com.