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We hung the exhibition yesterday in the Great Barn at Hellens Manor, Much Marcle, Herefordshire. It is part of this year’s Garden Festival, which has been re-imagined after its cancellation in June due to the coronavirus regulations. Hanging was hard work, negotiating the old timbers and irregular spaces, but Angus Macdonald has over 30 years of experience of installing exhibitions with his company C’ART Art Transport so he was able to come up with excellent solutions. We were helped by old friends Peter Arscott and John Burns.
I am sharing the barn with this fine grand piano which I have seen played by Christian Blackshaw at some wonderful concerts at Hellens Music Festival. It looks faintly sculptural and enhances the ambience. Sometimes a hen wanders in to see what is going on, adding to the blend of art in a bucolic setting.
There are two new paintings resulting from my residency in Romania in 2019. Here is a study of Petrica, who looks after the grounds of the manor house at Valeni. I would have liked to show all the Romanian works together as although the rest are sold I could have borrowed them back for this exhibition. However, I decided against this idea for various reasons. The others can be seen in previous posts on this website when they were shown at the Courtyard at Hereford in January/February 2020.
Small fruit and flower paintings to round off the show. I will post further information and a price list in my next post.
25 August, 2020
I am preparing for a solo exhibition ‘Field and Orchard’ in the Great Barn at Hellens Manor, Much Marcle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire in conjunction with their garden festival. It will run from August 26 to September 27. There is free entry to the gardens, grounds and exhibition with donations to St Michael’s Hospice and Back to the Wild. Opening hours are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 6 pm. See their website: www.hellensmanor.com for further details.
I see this as a kind of coda to my exhibition Another Country at The Courtyard, Hereford, in January/February of this year. Some of the works will have been seen there but others are new or were not hung at Hereford. Because of lockdown I still have the Valeni works which are due to be taken to Romania at some point so this gives me a chance to show them again, along with two new paintings on the theme.
The Great Barn is a wonderful building although it will be challenging to hang the work amongst all the old timbers.
I will try to be there quite often and will give dates and times soon. In any case Hellens is a lovely place to visit, set in beautiful Herefordshire countryside not far from the old market town of Ledbury. Much Marcle has other attractions too – an interesting old church with an ancient yew tree and of course Westons Cider at the other end of the village.
More information to follow.
25 July 2020
The coronavirus lockdown this Spring has been a strange experience for us all. One good thing from my point of view has been the peace and quiet which has given me time to spend long uninterrupted periods in the studio. Perhaps because it was a year ago in April that we were in Romania I felt there was some unfinished business to be addressed. While we were there I did some drawings for a painting which I didn’t have time to do before the exhibition at The Courtyard at Hereford. This is a painting in progress of the Valeni manor house, showing Petrica, the plum blossom and the two dogs. Petrica lives in the village and is employed to look after the grounds and chop wood, the plum trees were in full bloom when we arrived and the two dogs were always around the place.
16 May, 2020
The River Lugg flowing across the A4103 as we approached Hereford on Monday, 17 February to take down the exhibition at The Courtyard. The city centre was inundated by the River Wye that day but fortunately the arts centre was not affected. My flood paintings seem more relevant now than they did when they were painted: this one, Winter Flood, dates from 2009 and shows the Severn in flood at Worcester.
Here is the text of James Marsden’s speech at the opening of Another Country. James is a well known cider and perry maker at Gregg’s Pit, Much Marcle, Herefordshire. He is also a respected environmentalist with an impressive record in high governmental advisory positions including Head of Policy at Natural England, and currently chair of the Policy Forum at Brecon Beacons National Park.
I like the way he weaves together our shared memories of the landscapes featured in the exhibition with his own areas of interest. Please click on the link below:
The exhibition opened on Friday, 10 January and runs until Saturday, 15 February. There are 45 works from a time span of 15 years. The starting point, as mentioned in my previous post, is the work resulting from the Romanian residency in April 2019.
These pictures give an idea of how the exhibition looks at The Courtyard, beginning with a picture of Michael de Styrcea, who invited me to his manor house in Valeni, Moldavia, talking to James Marsden, a collector of my work who opened the exhibition.
I will post more images as time goes on.
13 January, 2020
I am currently preparing for an exhibition in early 2020 at The Courtyard, Hereford’s Arts Centre. It is titled ‘Another Country’ and runs from January 10 to February 15.
The nucleus of the show will be the paintings and drawings which I made following the residency in Romania in April 2019 and new works based on the countryside around the Malvern Hills. Then the subject matter widens to include works exploring rural themes from the last decade. The actual gallery at The Courtyard is quite small but I have been given access to a huge amount of wall space in the arts centre which will enable me to show large scale charcoal drawings and related paintings.
Further information and an online ‘taster’ catalogue which gives a flavour of the exhibition is available here:
29 November 2019
Over the last few months I have been working on the Romanian project (see previous posts). This drawing shows Olga and Costica, a couple who live near the manor house in the village of Valeni in Moldavia, NE Romania. We were taken to visit them by the local Orthodox priest and although verbal communication was limited they were very warm, friendly and gracious. They have about 2 hectares of land and have a fully equipped carpenter’s workshop, cowshed, barns and a poultry yard. They keep a cow and calf, two pigs, rabbits, hens and a fierce looking black dog on a chain. Costica is a skilled carpenter and Olga is a wonderful baker, producing amazing pastries and cakes from an outdoor bread oven.
They must be the last of a generation with the skills to be virtually self sufficient. We understood that their two sons have left the village. In the drawing I try to convey something of their cheerful self reliance.
September 11 2019
While I was on the Isle of Wight I taught a drawing class as part of the Quay Arts annual Summer School. It took place in Jubilee Stores, along the quay at Newport Harbour overlooking the River Medina. It was an enjoyable day with a group of committed students who produced some very good work. We experimented with different media, working mainly from observation. Here are some examples and a glimpse of the surroundings.
The exhibition in the Clayden Gallery at Quay Arts on the Isle of Wight ended on Saturday, 27 July.
Once again the combination of Molly’s pots and my paintings worked well. We made no particular advance plans of what we would put together but themes, forms and colours emerged and complemented each other. Molly’s new pots in dark greens and blues were seen against my new painting, Crows in the September Orchard, which is predominately green and blue. My small paintings of apples, quinces and blossom set up a fruit and flower association with Molly’s cobalt wash dishes featuring quinces and lemons. In 2017 there was a breezy maritime feel to the exhibition, this year it was more green and rural. We still had our birds – the crows in the orchard and Molly’s guinea fowl tiles.
We look forward to continuing this occasional collaboration in the future.
31 July, 2019