Back in Whitstable

It’s the Whitstable Oyster Festival and so many of the shops dressed their windows in celebration including this one by Copperfields.  The display reminded me of my fellow student, Wendy’s  work so have a look at her website to see what I mean.

I was on my way to The Horsebridge Arts Centre to see A1 Open Art. To quote from the festival brochure ‘The A1 Open is the largest annual exhibition of art in Whitstable. An exciting and eclectic response to the brief of A1 sized artworks by local and national artists, representing all styles, mediums, techniques and themes.’

Indeed the quote sums up what was on offer but my immediate response was how well it had been hung. The ability of the artists went right across the range although the subject matter was often obvious. There were many landscapes of the locality; the streets, the sea and the beach. But the curators had managed to pull them altogether to bring uniformity to the gallery. Somehow they had found communality in neighbouring works be it a theme, colour or subject matter.

I was unable to find out who were responsible for the curating as my question was misunderstood by the two people I asked. I was informed that the exhibition was open to anyone, which I knew, but unfortunately they didn’t appear to appreciate the art of placing the works all together.

Also I was unable to ascertain how many works were on display but there were many. Here’s a few which caught my eye for various reasons.

I was fascinated by Bruce Williams’s use of the A1 size. He has taken overlapping planks of wood and used pitch, oil and charcoal to give a rich textured look to his The Dolphin and Harbour painting.

Helen Wild is a Local textile artist and her appliquéd Tails Up drew my attention as it was one of the few textile pieces in the exhibition.

I viewed landscape after landscape then saw Lamb and the Lion, a mixed media scene by Carol Harding. I wasn’t too sure of what media she has mixed with her paint but I enjoyed the refreshing simplicity and straightforwardness of the work.

Most of the pieces I saw were paintings and Graham William’s The Meeting  stood out because it is mounted on Daler-Rowney board with the trade name clearly on show. It is then framed with new roughly cut  strips of pine – no pretence and this honestly seems to be an ironic comment on what could have happened in the depicted business meeting.

The Artesian Bread Organic work was a bit of fun. 20 different favoured and sized loaves have been displayed on a Hessian background then framed with a regal gold frame.

JD Haigh’s Seasalter captures the soul of Seasalter  for me; one of the better landscape paintings. The oil on paper has the air of the currently fashionable shabby chic as the vibrant poppies in the scrub-land sway  against a grey washed background.

A digital C print was the next one to draw me closer to the wall. Entitled Waking from a Dream  by Eleanor Mance Moran I had to look closely at it in order to see the dark ethereal image. It is  mounted on black board with a black frame both of which are fitting to the subject matter.

In contrast I felt Maia Spall had her painting Purple Seascape framed inappropriately. Her mounted oil on paper is surrounded by a grey stained  wooden frame which does nothing but compete with the work. The grain is in a wave like pattern and distracted me from seeing the painting.

Being a person who loves texture my last choice to mention is the two part piece made by Jo Savage which she named Diluted Truth. The top part is a third A1 size with the remaining two thirds below. It is a mixed media piece where she has used folded and creased paper, thick acrylic paint and gold leaf.

Unfortunately I’ve not been able to find any images on line from any of the artists, indeed there is very limited information on them in total.

As I’m visiting Whitstable on a regular basis for the next few weeks I look forward to visiting Horsebridge Arts Centre several more times.

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