Yes, time passes. It does that, I find, and nowadays fades off into the middle distance with increasing rapidity. For instance, some weeks ago I was going to talk about Fringe Arts Bath. Bit late now, so suffice to say that there were - as ever - some thought-provoking exhibitions on subjects including obsession, migration, walking the landscape, blue, as well as an open exhibition, and some excellent work everywhere I went. Here's a handful of images (hover over for information, where I've remembered to collect it) from, alas, not enough time spent at not enough of the scattered venues. And it was raining.
I was going to talk, too, about the sketchbook exhibition at Rabley Drawing Centre. No pics, alas, except of the decidedly rural location (I got myself pretty much lost, after, and had in the end to to retrace my steps or risk being stuck down some track with nowhere to turn, a truly horrendous distance to reverse, and the knowledge that I still had to drive halfway up the country preferably before nightfall). It was a fascinating show, with a million (oh alright, I think it might have been a hundred) very varied sketchbooks - and ur-sketchbooks. Very beautiful, some of them, but manifestly constructed for precisely that purpose. I recognised, though didn't always appreciate, the ones with gappy missed pages, other pages started with a few hopeful lines and then abandoned - those I knew were sketchbooks. It's partly why I don't bother much myself. I didn't have too much problem either with the ones full of stuck-in sketches - alright, so they had doubtless been curated, with scrappy scribbles not included unless they were terribly meaningful scrappy scribbles, but as someone who draws on such odd bits of paper as are hanging around I understand that the physical book form might never originally have existed. There were books crammed full of exquisite drawings, coloured in and, from my perspective, probably as good as or better than any finished work deriving from them - they mostly caused envy of the observational skills and drawing abilities. My problem was with the beautiful books, where sometimes you could see exactly how work had been cut up to make the pages. However lovely, I couldn't bring myself to think of them as sketchbooks. Still, it was good enough that I shall catch the show again - perhaps at Black Swan Arts in Frome - when it tours (tour venues and dates under sketchbook exhibition link above).
Those exhibitions were many weeks ago, now, and on my last trip exhibitions didn't play much part, except for Trowbridge's Town Hall Arts' inaugural Open Exhibition - with two recent works in it, I made the effort to get to the opening before driving north. Again, a selection of work below, mostly accompanied by artist names (I'll make sure I find the missing one on another visit and fill it in later). The top two are mine. I hope the show's a success for Town Hall Arts and grows year on year.
The yo-yo travel continues - I do my best to catch handy exhibitions and generally succeed, but I'm determined to ensure that printmaking happens too - it's too easy to let it slide, to claim (not without justification!) that really I should be ironing/mowing/getting a grip. In all honesty, it's not as if I did a load of that stuff before the increased to and fro, so why would I now?
Bath generously provides me with lots of exhibition-visiting opportunities - this week I made an effort and took in the Breugel show at the Holburne Museum, but I'm afraid it was far too crowded and (I knew this before I went) I don't try hard enough with most pre 20th century work. I peered over shoulders, appreciated the liveliness, then far too soon took myself off to see uber wood engraver Anne Desmet's work in the next room. Which I enjoyed far more - though the fact that I managed to be the only person in the room did play some part in my enjoyment. I remember having some good ideas as I went round, but I've forgotten them and might have to go back to be reminded - probably won't be revisiting the Breugels, though.
There are plenty more visiting opportunities outside of Bath, including, these days, Trowbridge. It has certainly been the case in the past that I haven't been able to make the most of Drawing Projects - its available days and mine never seemed to coincide. However, that seems to be becoming less true, and this last week I did go in to see Greyscale, a show of work by five Australian artists - I particularly liked the mark-making in pieces by Lisa Jones. In a hallway there are two massive portraits in charcoal, which have enormous presence. Nothing to do with the exhibition, they are by Anita Taylor - Drawing Projects is her and her partner's baby. It would, I imagine, be a lovely building in which to have a studio - lots of white, a certain quiet elegance, plenty of light. I love the lettering they use for signage, too - again, a certain elegance.
And I have been managing to print, too - first for Bristol Artists' Book Event (BABE) at the beginning of April, and more generally since. I'm a little disappointed in myself that I shan't be putting anything up for the Bath summer exhibition this year, but being in the city for the ritual queue just isn't going to fit this time round. Perhaps I might be better employed, now that I'm making more of an effort, in working through some complete print editions - that way I might be ready for future opportunities.
A quick trip around a handful of art in Bath last week - I don't get to everything that I'd like to see, but I don't do badly and certainly I manage to include far more in my trips south than I ever do around Greater Manchester. There's a handful of reasons for that, of which the most important is doubtless that the centre of Bath is compact. Free parking is nice too, when I can get it, and although I think my central spot is due to disappear quite soon, there are others on the outskirts that add perhaps an extra 10 or 15 minutes' walk to the centre. And hilliness, which I suppose will count as some much needed exercise. Traffic is a third factor. Bath has its problems, but they don't hold a candle to trying to get into or out of Manchester at the wrong time of day - and the chunk of time that is the right time can be surprisingly short when all the other considerations are taken into account. But I digress.
This time I started with Bartlett Street, home to Bath's branch of Toast. Not a noted art gallery, I know, but this spring Toast is showing a number of pieces of art, Works of the Heart, across its stores. Lucy May Schofield is one of the chosen artists, and her collection of cyanotypes from last year's winter solstice, Blue Hour (The Last Light) 2016, has been installed in the Bath shop window. The Toast site says:
Schofield’s work is a unique record of sunlight on the Winter Solstice. In the days leading up to the shortest day of the year she imposed upon herself a routine of hand making 160 sheets of Japanese kozo washi (mulberry paper). Before sunrise on 21st December 2016 she painted each sheet of paper with a UV sensitive coating and attached them to the interior wall of a derelict shooting hut in the Northumberland National Park. As light touched the paper between dawn and dusk each piece became a print of the day’s light.
Like a lot of art, something is lost in the photographing of it - subtlety of shade, depth of tone, essential character - which I would say is as it should be. Surely, ideally, the real thing should carry more meaning that a representation of it. The Toast photo is excellent, but I've stuck with my own poorer versions, complete with local reflections, which give it a grounding in location if nothing else.
The David Simon Contemporary gallery is also in Bartlett Street - I've stood outside it a few times before, but always when it has been closed and I've been reluctant to wait. This time, ta-da! I contrived to turn up when it was open. A lovely show, Impressions on Paper, with my favourite works all being Andrew Lansley's. Cue another poor photo, his piece of work in the window, but at least you can see it - inside the gallery my desire for more photos was defeated by reflections. I'd just like to add that it's the most beautiful smelling gallery that I have ever visited, due to Article (purveyors of fragrances, soaps, handcreams etc) occupying one end of its space.
Bath Contemporary changes its exhibitions more or less as regularly as I visit the city, and rarely disappoints. This time the featured artist was Boo Mallinson, with plenty more from their stable of artists in the room beyond. Boo's image is from the gallery website, and the others are snapshots of shadows (so hard to resist) cast by Rick Kirby sculptures.
Hmm. Well it's been a longish break since last I wrote, and it seems too late now to go into much detail about the remaining and by now positively historical exhibitions long long ago. So instead I'll go for something altogether briefer than might otherwise have been the case. Purely in the interest of not leaving this as unfinished business into the new year.
So. Way back then Monday was Bath Contemporary's Walking the Hills, Tuesday was the Society of Wood Engraver's Annual Exhibition, and on Wednesday I visited the Derwent Art Prize for works created in pencil, at the Trowbridge Arts Centre. All sorts of work, some (I think) executed in more than purely pencil, and a number of them so stunningly executed that it was hard for me to believe pencil had played any part, even though close inspection proved that it had. Apologies that I can't put names to artists - I have a list, but the points of reference stored so securely in my memory have perished.
After that, on Thursday, was the Black Swan Open 2016 in Frome - packed with goodies all over again. I did think that by now - four exhibitions in four days - I should have been suffering from overkill, but all the shows were different enough from each other that I was just having a great time. My personal favourite was 'The Passage of Landscape. 6.22 Bristol to Lymington' by Jilly Morris (last pic below, and I think there might be a mistake in the name of the piece but I can't find a reference to correct it) but it was impossible to get a good photo of it past the glass. Apologies again for not acknowledging artists - my notes are too brief and too long ago.
My intention to manage five shows in five days - the fifth to be at West Yorkshire Print Workshop on my way home, I think it was their Open exhibition too - was thwarted by common sense. I realised that it wouldn't extend my day by an hour or two but by considerably more plus endless Friday traffic, and thought better of it, though unfortunately it did mean that I missed the exhibition altogether. The fifth exhibition was, instead, south again on a later visit - the Jerwood Drawing Prize at The Edge, Bath University. Yes, more brilliant work. The winning work was 'Singularity' by Solveig Settemsdal - a video of something white and pulsing, changing shape, growing and moving. At first I felt oddly squeamish about it, something so organic in a yikky sort of way (I know, pathetic), but once I read the sign and discovered that it was actually the artist prodding around white ink in gelatine I felt much better (alright, I'm embarrassed, ok). I was already hooked - it was compulsive viewing - and ended up with dozens of stills.
I originally claimed six exhibitions, and while I'm not absolutely sure what the sixth should have been, it could have been the excellent George Tute one at Bath Contemporary. There was something Paul Nash about the paintings - subject matter rather than execution, I kept thinking of Wittenham Clumps - but I was most taken by his enormously complex wood engravings. Here's one, though whether it was from the actual exhibition or the gallery's christmas show I can't now remember.
And that's it, folks. An end to 2016, time for the next year - let's hope it's a good one.
For several weeks, now, my mouth and my eyes have been filled with flavours, jewels, metals, colours. Everywhere I look I am overwhelmed, as I try to find the words to capture what I see - I can't stop myself, it seems stupidly urgent. Saffron and ginger and nutmeg; gold, copper, bronze; russet and rust, burnt orange and port, toast and butter and honey. The splash of light in a shady corner, is it warm topaz, is it an amber glow? That garden acer, that one there, it's a preposterous lollipop red!
It's not even just the trees - bracken, bare hedgerow, moorland, they're all at it, with splashes of cornfield yellow and heady wine red, flamboyant pumpkin and speckled apricot. I'm even caught up in what I reject - caramel and toffee, flapjack and syrup all too sticky; grilled grapefruit, for all it captures a colour perfectly, and the toasty edges, doesn't feel right. Cinnamon works, foxy not; plum yes, aubergine no. But the irritating truth is that words are failing me. That there are so many blended, perfect shades out there for which I find it impossible to pin down any kind of helpful description. As a word person I find it hard to accept, although as a colour lover I'm happy to gaze at, say, the peachy, brackeny, auburny tones of the japanese maple in my garden and enjoy their nameless colours while they last.
It's mid-November - they'll all be gone soon enough. Already there are as many pools of leaves on the ground as leaves on branches (though when they're below as well as above it can double the colour spike) and soon all will be subtle browns and forgetfulness. That's fine - I love the starker land of winter too, and meanwhile, what a show there's been this year. What. A. Show.
I'm sorry, I really didn't mean to go on about autumn. Again. The point of this was going to be to enthuse about a fine crop of art exhibitions - most finished, inevitably, but that's no reason not to celebrate them. All six (six!) in one go would be overkill, but I could manage a couple today and the rest later.
First of the batch is/was Walking the Hills at Bath Contemporary - a collaboration between painter Malcolm Ashman and Norwegian digital artist Inger Karthum. I'd been looking forward to it for a good while, and I wasn't disappointed. Collaboration is something that has never quite appealed to me because of the lack of total control over one's own work that it implies. You would surely need to accept in advance that you might hate the joint result, and do you therefore put up work that isn't (in your eyes) so good, so that you won't mind if it's ruined? Equally, might you ruin someone else's? Or do you work out each and every collaborative piece of work together, in fine detail? It's very quickly obvious that I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I imagine every collaborative process is pretty much unique. Irritatingly, I've managed to leave this report long enough to have lost access to some of the supporting text from the show, but as I remember it the artists share an interest in memory and displacement. Sometimes the work done by each artist is easy to pick out - 'Paths', above left, for example, where the landscape is by Ashman and the paving slabs below by Karthum. Others required more attention, although obviously close observation makes the digital half of the collaborative images easy to identify. I still have vague, unformed doubts about digital art, but that doesn't stop me enjoying the end results, and these had a subtlety and complexity that fascinated me. The artists each had their own works in the show. too, and the playfulness of a number of 3D works created together added something extra.
Pinning down now why I enjoyed the show so much is proving difficult.Some of it was to do with colour combinations, some to do with the way each style of work really did complement the other. Most of it was that the collaboration was energizing, buzzy. For the first time ever I found myself wondering whether collaborating with an artist you trust might be surprisingly liberating.
Also finished now In Bath (but moved on to Oxford) is the Society of Wood Engravers' latest annual exhibition, which was at 44AD - the rooms there were just right for it. With every passing year I find wood engraving appeals more (still not had a go), and since I still don't go a bundle on the little amazingly skilled, fussy-but-dull pieces I assume that wood engraving is growing. Whether it is or no, here's a little selection - glass and light don't make taking photos easy, but I gave up on the most difficult ones and did my best with the rest. That's enough for one day - I'll finish off the exhibitions cluster next time.
I am not the world's best at being prompt with exhibition visits, a situation that definitely has not improved with my new habit of trekking up and down the country on a pretty regular basis. Thus it is that, in the last week of the Open House exhibition at Huddersfield Art Gallery, I have finally made it across the Pennines and through the door.
My original intention was to catch the letterpress-based exhibition, part of Open House, by David Armes of Red Plate Press, but one happy consequence of leaving it so late was that I suddenly discovered I could now also see Sumi Perera's Liminal Spaces - as winner of last year's Flourish Award for Excellence in Printmaking at the WYPW open exhibition, she was given a one man show at Huddersfield, and this is it. There's more about both exhibitions here.
When I mentioned on twitter that I was looking forward to Liminal Spaces, Sumi said she would be interested in any photos I took of the shadows - I wasn't too surprised; when she exhibited at Bath Contemporary, they mentioned how much shadows fascinated her. It gave me all the excuse I needed to take a million photos (not by any means all shadows), which of course I duly did. As I've indicated before, I love her work - a lot of it is to do with her use of colour, inevitably, but it's not all about that aspect. I've read the background blurb for her exhibition, but I do wish I had been awake enough to realise this exhibition was going to happen, so that I could have attended her introduction - while I'm quite happy to like her prints because I like them, it would be good to add a little more understanding too. They are intriguing. I would have liked to have listened to the sounds that went with one wall of her work (those that look like the traces of recording needles), but for whatever reason I failed to make the equipment work. Taking the show as a whole, though, that was a very small thing. Loved it.
David Armes' exhibition was about place and memory. The letterpress aspect was mostly fragments of speech, and was combined with maps, directions, patchwork (beautiful subtle shades of heather and slate; lovely background mark-making) and layering. You can read more about David's intentions in his blog of the project, but for myself I found the show wistful, leaning back in time. The maps, used in squares as a substrate for quotations, were surely old maps, the repetition of speech felt like echoes of memory, and by happy chance the photos I took of backlit work had a sepia-tinted feel to them (though the actual works didn't). Even those soft colours in his gorgeous grid piece could have been chosen from fabrics long ago.
Shadows, echoes, repetition - they were everywhere I looked. I know that was all set off by Sumi Perera's work, full of repeated images and multi-coloured echoes and her own interest in shadows, but in David's work I found myself tracing the same themes - for instance, each map square carried a matching set of quotations, quiet echoes over and over. Maybe shadows didn't have quite the same presence, but I searched for them anyway. The other Open House exhibition, curated by Jim Bond, Liz Walker and Rozi Fuller, suggested more in the same vein - there was plenty to look at, but I'm afraid I didn't pay enough attention (counting down the parking). I concentrated on the central piece of work, involving screens with windows in, an anglepoise-style light rigged to move (yup, lovely shadows) and a video on a loop (more repetition) and then I called it a day.
To top off an immensely satisfying gallery trip, I drove home on a new (to me) route across the Pennines full of drop-dead gorgeous landscape and space, which I shall have to revisit very soon. Definitely a good day.
I've spent a scant few hours at Fringe Arts Bath (FaB) this week, and even that amount has left me brimming with enthusiasm and excitement. Not exactly filled with ideas, because they're a lot too undeveloped for that, but something like, something that might turn into ideas and then into work.
The festival lasts for two weeks, bookended with weekends, and on the evidence of my two short stints I'm pretty sure I could turn up for most of every day and always see something new, engaging and quite likely challenging in one way or another. There's just so much on. Take the Time Machine, downstairs in the 44AD gallery. I turned up when Pat Jamieson and Carol Laidler's Ten Thousand Years of Rain was on, but it was only there for that day! A new event/exhibition/etc will be set up every single day, which I find mind boggling enough. Ten Thousand Years of Rain was a beautiful set, all light and bright and greens, with the sound of dropping water and a film of ripples and watery movement - it felt vibrantly alive, cool, fresh, and to think that in less than a mayfly span it would be stripped out ready for the next thing was difficult to accept. I might have missed it. As it is, I'll miss all the other shows in that space.
It was a green day, that first day. I've never considered that the weather might influence what I choose to like on any given occasion, but I think it did. It was humid (as Bath so often is in the warmer months) and I'm convinced that green works told me they were refreshing. A theory to test, maybe? Do I like warming shades on cold days? Cheerful shades to combat the grey and dreary days? Whatever, upstairs from the Time Machine was the Bath Open Art Prize, where nearly all my favourite pieces were variations on green (one of which was a giclee reproduction, which I struggled with, but I liked the image enough to stamp down on my natural disapproval). Apologies for not noting down the fourth artist while I was there - hopefully people will go see the show for themselves.
The following day's session started on Walcot Street, which has a number of FaB venues. On the ground floor of FaB2 was Photomarathon's walls of photos. At the time I never quite got to grips with it, but I've read about it since (see link just back there) and now it makes more sense. In a room beyond that was Shadowlands, a wall-to-ceiling cut paper scene which, I gathered from the person who had put it together, was a total nightmare to hang (I spent time looking at the ceiling to see how he'd done it, and I believe him), and in the room next door a rather neat little idea - an exhibition of Hanging Instructions. There were more ground floor exhibitions here too - FaB2 is positively stuffed with shows.
Downstairs and upstairs was Utopia:Dystopia. The basement was dim and grimy, filled with items definitely at the dystopia end of the spectrum. I suppose I engaged with the theme on a pretty shallow level, sort of getting the idea while not always going to the trouble of thinking any further, but as a rule I'm quite happy just to interact with a piece on the basis of whether it does something for me or not, and even at that sort of standard I was overwhelmed. I might have been distracted by things that were (probably) not part of the show, like the tattered walls and a grimy power point, but in both those cases I decided they fitted well with the theme. Which (a slight tangent here) is another thing that I have found with FaB, this year and two years ago - the themed exhibitions have expanded beyond their boundaries, sharpened or altered my observation, changed the world around me. It could be a 'well duh' point to most people, but for me it's something of a revelation. Not unprecedented in other patches of my life, but wild all the same.
Among other things I liked the yellow wallpaper prints (which I've definitely seen before somewhere), the heads, and particularly Ruaraidh Monies' Invisible People - not an original idea, I know, but I loved his book of photos and a particularly scrappy frame. After the basement I went up to the first floor and took a nice deep breath of light. The contrast in atmosphere was quite something, but although there was plenty to like on this floor, I wasn't quite convinced that the theme shone through. Click for larger images, and hover for more artists and/or info. Where lacking, more apologies to the artists, and to anyone else, go see the real thing.
It turned out that there was more Utopia:Dystopia at Walcot Chapel, a venue I love for its setting in an oasis of graveyard tranquility. Again, plenty to capture the attention and encourage the mind to work, sometimes fitting into the theme quite easily, sometimes being enjoyable for itself. I was particularly taken by the layers of imagery on Emma Finch's ceramics, as well as Rebecca Bradley's views from train windows, April Virgoe's smoky constructions, and now I think about it lots of the other works too - really, the only way to appreciate these shows to the full is to go visit them.
It was around this point that time began to be an issue, so my trip to FaB1's Cartesian Cut? was taken at a brisker pace. Broadly, it dealt in a variety of ways with the body. Full of fascinating and often disturbing pieces, here are three views of Red Pools (Absence/Presence) by Nikki Allford, a work that's uneasy and beautiful in equal measure, and Cartesian Cut? by curator Eloise Govier, a frozen piece that (to my eyes) creates ghost fossils as it melts.
A final dash to see Pattern: Found, Exchanged, Unravelled in Milsom Place, but I really didn't have the time left to do it any kind of justice - it looked good and (I realise this isn't what it's all about) I did like the shop front/window, but no time, no time.
And that was it for this year; when I get back it'll all be over except (fortuitously) the exhibition The Man who Bought Stonehenge and Other Stories with my artist book Guilty in. That's on for an extra fortnight. But really, I'd recommend anyone to dip into the enormous spread of exhibitions, performances, events that go to form FaB - I've barely scratched the surface even of the exhibitions I did see. One week left, and far too long till the next one. Don't miss it.
Discerning Eye invites (relatively) small entries for its juried exhibition each year, limited to 50cm height, width and depth. There were a couple of 3D works here, but the majority hung on the wall, and of those most were oils. As a printmaker, I was a little disappointed by that, but I shouldn't be too narrow about these things, and there were some beautiful pieces - hover over pictures for the artists. This time the weird angles aren't down to ineptitude but to a desire to avoid reflections - I did my best.
The collection is being shown at Bridge House Drawing Centre, also home for Drawing Projects UK - the brainchild of Anita Taylor, current Dean of Bath School of Art and Design at Bath Spa University who returned from Australia to take up the post, and her partner. The house is an elegant building - as are many in Trowbridge, though somehow they're too easy to overlook (that could be baggage from growing up locally and, basically, dismissing the town - perhaps time to review my tired attitude) - and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens next, both at the Drawing Centre and with Trowbridge Arts generally. Until fairly recently I hadn't even been aware that there was a Trowbridge Arts at all, though in fairness to me it's been a long time since I've been local. Another wonder of social media, no doubt about it - I can be ersatz local to anywhere.
I think I've worked out at least one reason why April is the cruellest month. Nearly every day this last week, the sun came out at regular intervals and filled the world with enough glorious, encouraging light - and, in protected spots out of the wind, warmth - surely to tempt a slow worm out from under its stone (found a few in my parents' garden, sensibly hiding). And, every single time, within ten or so minutes it was suddenly gone and instead we had hail or snow. And then back to the obviously-set-for the-day sunshine, pretending it never went away. Repeat repeat repeat - crazy weather. But the skies, oh! the skies. As the heavens prepared to deliver the next icy shock, the sky would turn dense, dark storm blue, with everything startlingly spotlit against it, or it would be fantastically sculpted from deep indigo clouds, carved through to the lighter shades within. The lighting has been incredible and made for some stunning colours - as ever, the improbable acid green of ordinarily grass-green fields, but also a claret-leafed tree across the river valley, and (a favourite blend) the russet-red new growth of pollarded lime trees glowing against a background of pure white blossom in the churchyard - just gorgeous.
More prosaically, I was pleased to have a piece of work selected for the latest Bath Society of Artists' Summer Exhibition, though faintly surprised that, of the two I submitted, 'Gather' was the one that made it in. I'm not complaining, more intrigued at how these things go.
It's as fun as all the other summer (well, more or less summer, anyway) shows I've visited at the Victoria Art Gallery down the years. As ever, I like some works, don't like others, know that most of this is purely down to my particular taste and (not knowing what's what, but not prepared to allow for that) feel that a few are just plain poor. I liked some winners, couldn't get my head round others, frankly laughed at one or two (that's frankly laughed inside my head - I wasn't sharing my views). I like that I recognise a handful of my favourite artists by now, and notice when others aren't on the walls. One day I shall make the effort to put aside a fund from any sales of my own work throughout the year(s), then allow myself a painting.
Favourites? As ever, I love Amanda Ralfe's chalky paintings.
Also works by Andrew Lansley, Rosie Mack, Richard Twose and many others. Some are below - hover over them for name and artist. I should probably point out that nobody's work was actually a not-quite-rectangle - any and all optical whatnots should be attributed to the photographer (sorry).
I always feel that I don't give the sculpture at the show enough space - I enjoy the 3D work, but if I'm not careful I find I treat it mostly as obstacles to avoid while looking at the walls, hazards that must not be knocked over. Also, it's easy to lose sight of the individual pieces. The walls might be richly full, but I find myself able to concentrate on the piece in front of me and ignore those around it. With the sculptures, though, the busy-ness of the background makes that more difficult, for me certainly. It's an odd sensation - I walk round, carefully trying to focus my attention on the sculptures, but as often as not it just scatters. Nevertheless, I persevered. Here's a selection I liked, but there might be others where I. Just. Couldn't. Oh look, paintings!
Next up, I'm hoping to see the Discerning Eye exhibition, which has rocked up in - surely one of the most unlikely places - Trowbridge. I'll have to see what I can manage.
As Victoria Art Gallery is to Bath, so Neo:gallery is to Bolton - if I park in town, I pass right by the gallery and if it's open I have to come up with a pretty convincing reason not to go in.
And so, for all that my free time is diminishing for the moment, I still managed last weekend to visit Structure - a contemporary textiles exhibition at Neo:gallery. Yet again, there was plenty to please - the technical skills of a textile artist are a closed book to me, but I can still appreciate the craft and artistry on display. The exhibition shows the work of a group who have called themselves eleven - a name that can be a bit of a hostage to circumstance, of course, just as our own group thirteen show was. It turned out we managed to be fourteen, and in similar fashion, eleven has become, in this show at least, ten. Nothing wrong with a subset, mind you.
There are birds ('Birds in Flight', Susan Sydall, who is also the curator along with Bella May Leonard), there's a rug ('Splash Aran Carpet, Judith Watson), there are jewel-bright grid-like works ('Print stitch cut sew', Sian O'Doherty), a drifty wall hanging ('Zhumba', Amy Smerdon), windows ('Home' series, Jo Smith) and plenty more.
My stand-out favourite work there is a combination of cement and knitted fibres (Bethany Walker) - can't quite work out what the attraction is. I don't think it's the obvious one of contrast. More likely is that it's something geological or archeological, a notion of excavation, that the pieces have uncovered the knitting already encased in concrete. Many (many) years ago, I remember some work at a Bolton graduation show, combining glass and concrete in a vaguely similar fashion, and that was similarly attractive.
I found time, too, to queue in the damp to submit a couple of pieces for this year's Bath Society of Artists' Summer Exhibition - the turnaround time is less than a week, so I'll know in the next few days whether to be pleased or flattened. I hope I manage to get something in again - for all the walls are crowded with work, which doesn't appeal to everyone as a hanging style, I think it's great, like a giant artistic sweet shop, and I like to be a part of it. Can't wait to see this year's show, whether I'm in it or not.
I make prints and book arts, though nowhere near as often as I'd like - no good reason, just an inability to get on with things. I occasionally go on about landscape (with which I am mildly obsessed) and various of its elements, and I like to pass comment on exhibitions I visit.