Sunday, 16 September 2012

Arting at Artscape

Artscape from the upstairs gallery
For the fourth year running a group of us have been taking part in Herts Open Studios, exhibiting as Artscape Arts, upstairs in our local art shop, Artscape.  It's an Aladdin's cave of art materials, stationery, greetings cards and frames; Gurmeet and his team will frame items for you, too.  He gave the room upstairs a revamp this year; there's more natural light and more space, both for hanging and to move around in.  When we set up a couple of weeks ago, we were thrilled!

Pauline's ceramic restoration display with some of Helen's prints and Hillary's cards
This year's Artscape Arts exhibitors includes Pauline Ashley, who works with ceramics - creating her own pieces and also restoring broken pottery and glass for other people.  She has chosen to focus on the restoration side of her work for this exhibition.  It's Pauline's first time at Artscape but she has been a member of HVA and an enthusiastic supporter of Herts Open Studios for many years; Pauline gave me my first taste of Open Studios by allowing me to share the gallery she set up in her garden workshop for Open Studios 2008, and a lot of fun we had, too.

Helen's prints & browser in the alcove . . .

. . .  and in the main room
I was also delighted that Helen Brooks was able to join us again this year, having last exhibited at Artscape in 2010; I was bowled over by her skillful linocuts then, and I still am.  She designs and cuts her printing plates at home and prints them up using the University of Hertfordshire presses.  This year she's hung several colour pieces as well as her classic black-and-white prints.

Sue's paintings with our card displays
Once again, Sue Wookey has put on a wonderful display of watercolours and photographs, ranging from the spiritual to the quirky; and during our Open Studios sessions (Friday & Saturday afternoons throughout September) she's been demonstrating some lovely small animal paintings.  Pretty impressive, considering that she's also in the throes of preparing for her first London exhibition at St Martins in the Fields!

Sue & Hillary's photo exhibits 
Hillary's acrylic photo prints and her other wall display
The fourth member of this year's group is Hillary Taylor, who is showing photographs, mixed media and computer graphics, many influenced by her time in Japan and Australia.  I don't know how she does it:  over the Summer Hillary has managed to do all our Artscape publicity again, set up a local artists' group, organise the refreshments at the recent HVA exhibition at Harpenden Public Halls and set up her own part of the Artscape exhibition.  And that's just her art life: she runs a home, a family and a job too!

my own corner of the exhibition
As usual, I'm the mongrel of the group;  or in art-speak, I'm showing an eclectic mix of watercolours, photographs and linocut prints.  The three paintings on show represent my entire output of watercolours for 2012, while many of the photos were taken in my garden; that is, apart from Buxton Quartet, based on my experiments with Photoshop Elements earlier this year as discussed here on this blog.  It hasn't come out too bad:

Buxton Quartet
But my biggest success was a last-minute addition to the display;  a double linocut Birds In Winter, taken from a couple of photos of birds in the trees at the end of my garden.  As regular readers of this blog will know, I completed one of the elements a few weeks ago;  it was only when we set up at Artscape that I got my act together enough to cut and print the second design.  It spent a few days drying, and I framed both pieces up on the Friday of our Open Evening.  By 8pm it had been sold!

'Birds in Winter' - sold at the Open Evening!
In fact,  we've all been very lucky as far as sales have been concerned; but of course that's not the main point of Open Studios, welcome as sales are.  It's interacting with the public and explaining the processes involved in creating our artworks which gives us the most satisfaction.  I'm finding it easier to chat to people than I used to; but just in case I get tongue-tied I've created a workbook out of the bits and pieces I use when working out a painting or a print:

my workbook showing preparations for 'Two Hand Reel'
my workbook pages about 'Signs'
It's really good to see some of this stuff out on display and people have been very interested.  I've also been doing a little project of my own during our Open Studios afternoons (Saturdays only in my case, as I've been at work on Fridays).   It's highly portable, great fun and has taught me a lot already; and we're only half way through!  you'll have to wait for my next blog to find out what it is.

If you're in Harpenden do pop into Artscape to see our exhibition - it's open when the shop is, unless there's a class going on.  And we're there in person on Friday and saturday from 1pm to 5pm.  Hope to see you!

1 comment:

  1. Every year I think the Artscape exhibition is better than the previous year's, and this year is no exception. A wonderful, eclectic range of work to delight the eye and provoke many thoughts!