THE opening of an exhibition at Gallery150 in Leamington is always a bit of an occasion.
It’s the only gallery where you get called sir or madam as you’re handed a glass of wine, and the canapés are always beautifully presented.
But tonight’s opening was the first where at opening time the exhibition was still being hung! LSA Chair Gerry Smith, fresh back from holiday, and an able assistant were busy fixing the last digital prints to the wall as the first drinks were poured, but they were soon all in place and in a straight line too.
The exhibition is split between two photographers – Gregory J Smith and James Callaghan.
James lives locally and has been doing some work with the gallery – but the story of how Gregory’s got to be on show is a bit more exotic.
Gerry studied an art and design foundation course at Kettering Technical College some years back. His friend Gregory Smith later went on a student exchange visit to Norway – and ended up staying there, forging a varied career as a theatre production designer, antique restorer, social worker and art dealer.
In 1992 he followed his heart and set up CARF, the Children At Risk Foundation, and went to Brazil with his son to work with street children, setting up centres to help rehouse and rehabilitate these children, initially with the help of money raised from an auction of works by Norwegian artists.
On line, Gerry recently came across photographs his old friend had taken over there, and the result is the current exhibition, which will raise money for CARF. Gerry said: “I didn’t know he was taking photographs, I came across all these pictures and I was gobsmacked and I said we should have a show of them.”
The pictures show the boys – mainly in dramatic close ups, and with bright colours either on themselves, their surroundings or both. Some are at play, with bikes in evidence, and others have their faces painted as if for carnival, peering through equally bright doorways.
There are also some fantastic ones of the children playing on the beach or in the dramatic setting sun, with sunset-lit waves, or a solitary child with a row of towerblocks in the background.
Others show just the boys’ faces, some knowing beyond their years, or wary, trying to now escape their past.
You can read more about CARF at http://www.carfweb.net/pdf/carf_story_04.pdf and see more photos at www.carfweb.net
There will be more about the exhibition and James Callaghan’s works in Friday’s Coventry Telegraph.