I bought one of Anthony’s ‘Chinese style’ works called ‘Dragon Fire’. I think his art is sensitive and there is a lot of light in his work. He is obviously very talented and someone else passing made similar remarks. The price was very reasonable too for a unique piece

Cilla Steed, Ipswich

I have four of Anthony Wooding’s works: two “Chinese style” in the hall, and two Native American themed on the first-floor landing. These markedly different styles, which are eminently suited to their respective locations, demonstrate Ant’s versatility and scope.

“Cloud Mountains” and “Waterfall in Colour” were, I understand, inspired by a visit to Hong Kong and an introduction to the techniques of traditional Chinese painting. On the other hand, “Spiritual Home” and “Lame Deer Study” are the results of a long-standing interest in Native American culture and here we see the connection between Ant’s philosophical interests and his art.

And Lame Deer doesn’t go unnoticed as he watches over the local community from his first-floor vantage point. Indeed, a neighbour asked about a pair of eyes that seemed to be following him as he passes by –

Paul Griffiths, Felixstowe

I was first introduced to Anthony as an art lover and a lawyer. I immediately thought of Manet, Degas and Cézanne who left law school to pursue painting. 

I later learnt of Anthony’s admiration for Marcus Aurelius and Lame Deer. Anthony’s moral code of justice is the central passion for his painting as well as his life as a lawyer. Anthony has a respect for the great men and women of history. Anthony’s studio has: a dollar bill, an image of General Custer with his dog, and a number of reproductions of Edward Curtis’ informal photographs starting from the 1890s. Curtis pursued his project for twenty years, documenting the disappearing life of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.

In the painting, Moon Creek,  Ophelia-like the central figure becomes part of the moonbeam dappled waters. The reeds bend over him protectively, the elements enfold him and, no clothing visible, he is at one with the earth, the air and the water. As above so below, the figure and the heavens are united, the reflection of the lone man floats in perfect symmetry. The square canvas adds to the suggestion that this painting could be turned upside down and still depict the same scene.

 Anthony’s use of square and circular canvases give a sense of equality and balance, breaking free of the ‘golden section’ rectangular proportions of traditional European landscapes. The circle is central to Native American Indian symbolism. 
It represents the sun, the moon, the cycles of the seasons, and the cycle of life to death to rebirth. Indeed the circle is symbolic of inclusion in many cultures, including  the Quakers who first wrote their signatures in a circle, to avoid persecution of on particular signatory. The circular canvas emphasises the strength of the Native American people in adversity, and the power of the tribe.

 In Seeker of Visions, Lame Deer’s head and upper body are central to the canvas. Encircling him, Chagall-like, as if in a dream, are the bison, the homes of the tribe and the dollar bill that seems here to symbolise death. A Bosch-like figure raises his hands to catch the falling green paper.  Anthony references the Battle of Little Big Horn, the dollar bills that looked to the Native Americans like green frog backs, and the beautiful story of the dollars being transformed into horses by the Native American children. In the spirit of unity, Anthony has asked his friends to make their own unique versions of dollar bill horses to be part of the exhibition. 

The circle of the painting is echoed by the circular tips and Lame Deer’s headdress emblem. Lame Deer oversees the landscape and casts a protective arm over his land and his people.

 The painting Returning Home depicts riders disappearing as if into the ether.

Anthony uses oil paints as if they are earth clays. The bison look as though depicted in Lascaux and as if made of the soil, fading back to their original element.

 Using very diluted paint Anthony gives the figures he depicts, muted, glowing hues, nebulous edges and creates the impression that they are returning to their ancestral homeland; ‘Grandmother Earth’

Annabel Dover artist and lecturer at New Suffolk College, Ipswich.

Ant Wooding is one of those rare artists whose work embodies a spiritual element; something beyond the paint. Anyone who visited the original Rothko room when it was at the old Tate Gallery in London will know how powerful that can be. Mark Rothko possibly didn’t know how much he was expressing a spiritual element – he just was. Ant has an ingrained respect for North American Indian culture, and it could well be that (at times) it flows freely from his brush as he depicts aspects of their folklore and tradition. The Doors’ own Jim Morrison felt his creativity was influenced by a spiritual link to the ‘original native Americans’, and it is easy to see how Ant could be either consciously or subconsciously channelling the spirit world in a similar way.

Not that Ant is at all ‘other worldly’; far from it. His learned, down-to-earth approach first equipped him with the need to understand artistic method. The skills & materials of the artist are respected by Ant, and he has taken the time to learn. I’m certain as with all artists that his learning days are far from over. However, where once he was an artist like so many others, he has now become one of those who can take the essence of a place – of a person, and paint that too. His artworks are not mere photocopies, they are the embodiment of whatever it is that he’s depicting.

When Ant tackled the portrait of the Mayor of Ipswich, he did so by exploring the man’s interests and what it is to be him. His painting style is expressive and free, which lends itself well to this method he has nurtured. In that painting, the Mayor is not just a man in a moment caught in time – he’s the soul of the man too. Ant can do that.

This primitive urge to explore the essence of something runs throughout his art. If we were all still living in caves, Ant would be decorating the walls with beautiful, spiritual paintings utilising the colours of the earth. Between paintings, he’d be perfectly happy dealing with real-world issues. As in modern life – his day job seems at odds with his artistic self. It isn’t. The juxtaposition of ‘lawyer Ant’ against ‘spiritual artist Ant’ seem to be metaphors for a modern life: the successful businessman and the bohemian artist encapsulated in one person. Ant has a successful career as a lawyer, which could be said is the result of the kind of society we live in and the need to fulfil potential in a socially acceptable way.

If I were to suggest an established artist from history whose work Ant’s reminds me of, it would certainly be the Symbolist, Odilon Redon, whose methods, imagery and ethos Ant would likely enjoy (if he doesn’t already). The ‘mind, imagination, and spirit’ of Symbolism also belongs with Ant.

There is much to come from Ant Wooding. It is an exciting prospect that this fellow will one day be able to spend the majority of his time on art. His energy, thirst for knowledge, and inherent spirituality will aid him in naturally evolving yet more wonderful creations. Time will be on his side. Follow Ant. He’s worth it.

Ian Moss, artist and curator The Freudian Sheep