Thursday, 28 June 2018

. . . and Festival Fun!

a visitor to our exhibition
© Teresa Newham

It was difficult to miss the Cultivate Arts Festival last week.  For four days there were huge flags outside every participating church in town, courtesy of Harpenden Churches Together; at Our Lady of Lourdes my bunting made its second public appearance in a month, and my newly-acquired A-frame its first.

signage everywhere!
© Teresa Newham

Each church had its own take on the Festival: the  High Street Methodist Church became Narnia for a production of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; St John's had an installation about man's effect on the environment; the Quakers showed some paintings from New Zealand depicting the life of their founder; St Nicholas's put on a quilting display and a choral concert. There was photography, art and ceramics - and nobody wanted to miss any of it . . .

art in the Undercroft
© Teresa Newham

Our Lady of Lourdes' contribution was art and live music in the church and an art exhibition in the Undercroft, with our Summer Concert rounding off the whole event on the Sunday evening.  There's plenty of art in our church already - Stations of the Cross, icons, stained glass and statues - so we printed off some guides, set up our easels and tables downstairs and our mini exhibition and a keyboard upstairs - and prepared to greet our visitors.

mini exhibition in the church
© Teresa Newham

The Flower Group did us proud with a wonderful topiary display at the entrance to the church; inside, the choir had produced an amazing piece incorporating a music stand, a violin, a vase of flowers, a photo and a mobile of paper flowers and birds made from recycled hymn sheets.  In the entrance to the Undercroft we were delighted to be able to display some posters of works by the late Elizabeth Wang, a parishioner whose art enjoys an international reputation.

topiary, the choir display and art by Elizabeth Wang
© Teresa Newham

Our main exhibition was in the Undercroft itself, displaying the work of eight artists and several of their children.  I had no idea we had so much talent within the parish: oils, acrylics, illustration, watercolours and monoprints.  The Festival organisers had encouraged interest from non-churchgoing artists, too - a couple showed with us, while several more exhibited their work in Wesleys Cafe at the High Street Methodist church.

a variety of work on show in the Undercroft
© Teresa Newham

St Dominic's Primary School joined in with the art and the music. We were thrilled with Year 4's interpretation of the theme "Beauty Abundance Order" - a tree of clay tiles, each one representing an insect or other creature.  It made an excellent centrepiece and when the school choir came to  perform at the concert, they had great fun picking out their own tiles on the tree.

clay tiles on a tree made an attractive centrepiece
© Teresa Newham

I'd tried to find appropriate quotes to go with my watercolours and prints - some from the Bible, others favourite poems and hymns.  I'd popped the last print of  Morning Has Broken and the salt-spattered watercolour Cosmos back into frames for the occasion; they were so popular that I might have to show them again somewhere else soon.

my own display - old and new pieces
© Teresa Newham

The musical items in the church were a joy - I even managed to make a couple of discreet sketches while skulking at the back. The concert on the Sunday evening was standing room only. I was singing with the choir and bagged a seat behind a handy floral display so I could flop a bit when we weren't needed.  Everything was starting to catch up with me . . .

some sketching in the church
© Teresa Newham

All in all the first Cultivate Arts Festival was a resounding success, with our church receiving tremendous support from the parish - from the artists and performers, those who volunteered to help with refreshments or greeted visitors to the church, and those who came to look at the exhibition and listen to the music, and made such lovely comments.  Yes, it was tiring - and like most of the organisers from the various churches, I never did get round to see everything - but it was worth it!

the Bella Mamas' turn to entertain
© Teresa Newham

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Fun in the sun . . .

Harpenden Arts Club tent at Art on the Common 2018
pen sketch © Teresa Newham

It was quite a weekend!  At 8 am on Saturday morning around fifty artists arrived at Harpenden Common with gazebos, tables, banners, flags - and their artworks to display.  An hour or so later, most of us were set up and enjoying a chat or a coffee before the event officially opened at ten.

Saturday morning before the crowds arrive
© Teresa Newham

My co-exhibitors this year were artist Hillary Taylor and jewellery maker Susheel Rao.  We had drawings and prints, watercolours and linocuts, bracelets, pendants and earrings to browse or buy, and the chance for passing children to have a go at one of Hillary's colouring books - one of several opportunities for the public to join in the fun this year.

our set up
© Teresa Newham

By noon the sun had come out and everyone flocked to our side of the green to watch the Harpenden Carnival procession with its Wild West theme which was led by  a colourful display of Native Indian headdresses and totems.  The Mayor drove by in an old car, local dance schools strutted their stuff, and various Brownies and Cubs paraded. I particularly liked the plastic cacti and the random shed on wheels.

colour at the Carnival
© Teresa Newham

By the following morning we were dab hands at getting Hillary's gazebo up and down again - you forget during the year but it comes flooding back - and we had our display sussed, so there was time to wander round taking more photos of the various arts and crafts on offer.  Some folk had elaborate set-ups, others were selling from the backs of their cars.  I went over for a closer look at Tendayi Tandi from Zimbabwe, who was giving a demo of stone carving.

day two ~ demos and displays
© Teresa Newham

By late afternoon the shadows were lengthening and we were tired out from being in the fresh air for two days, chatting to our many visitors across the weekend!  Despite the full on interaction I'd found time to make a couple of sketches - we were opposite the Harpenden Arts Club tent which provided an excellent subject - and to hand out loads of flyers for my next event - the Cultivate Arts Festival, which is coming up on 21st - 24th June.  It's all happening  . . .

late Sunday afternoon sunshine
© Teresa Newham

Huge thanks to David Whitbread and the team from Harpenden Photographic Society, who organised the whole event, and to our many visitors whose purchases contributed to raise money for Cancer Research UK (15% of all sales).

visitors, including the obligatory dog
© Teresa Newham