A recurrent theme of his work, since 1969, has been the beach landscape found in and around the Penarth coast of South Wales. As well as becoming a second studio for the production of his paintings, the beachscape provided important metaphors for wider contemporary political and social concerns - particularly the devastating impacts of pollution. Martin Holman has described the beach in Setch’s work as being “the Nevil Shute- like emblem of civilisation’s final refuge from nuclear or ecological catastrophe.” Setch describes his initial connection to the beach as theatrical, referring to it as a ‘playground’ in which he could develop ideas. He initially devised ritualistic performances to imaginatively explore the possibilities of the environment – systematically setting up totem-like structures from rocks and beach detritus and returning to discover where the high tides had deposited the objects in new arrangements along the shore.
"There is a certain mystique about late works. Are they distillation or accumulation? - the products of literally failing but obsessive eyesight, or wilful visionary perspicacity, or both, in equal measure, in a Rembrandt or a Monet, a Giacometti or a Titian.?Adorno, a theorist in the darkening 1930s set out characteristics of late works. He was focussed on Beethoven: “Objective is the
fractured landscape, subjective the light in which – alone – it glows into life. He does not bring about their harmonious synthesis. As the power of disassociation, he tears them apart in time, in order perhaps, to preserve them for the eternal. In the history of art, late works are the catastrophes”. In such a spirit, Terry Setch is embarked on late works, of? monumentality and huge presence.
So Setch in colours and shapes of his creative digestion sets before us spectral forms, congealed, ugly pretty detritus, in what Baudelaire at the very beginnings of the modern era defined as the challenge for “the painter of modern life” that is, to make something of “the mud on the macadam”. David Alston