An artist with a long-established career is holding his retrospective at a lovely Warwickshire gallery.
Michael Felmingham, who was born in Birmingham in 1935, taught for many years at Leicester and then Coventry Colleges of Art, and in 1989 retired from teaching to concentrate on his painting. He works from a studio in Leamington, and the exhibition includes many images of his adopted home town, as well as the countryside, his garden, and as a complete contrast, Venice.
The Gallery Upstairs in High Street, Henley-in-Arden, has shown his work since 1994, when it was run by Reg and Mag Moon, above Reg’s pottery. Their son and daughter now run the gallery – in a very pleasant space which was once their childhood playroom – and Carey Moon and a couple of other potters also work downstairs.
Such is the popularity of Michael Felmingham’s works that a quarter of those in the exhibition were sold either when the brochures were sent out, or on the opening day of the exhibition.
The exhibition includes both watercolours and oils. One section of watercolours of villas and streets in Leamington are quite Piper-esque in their use of colour, including some hints of sunset or sunrise.
As Felmingham has noted in the exhibition signs, there are few signs of blue skies in his Warwickshire paintings, and they often have grey or cloudy skies. In some the buildings dominate, and in others the weather, but all are skilfully painted with lots of attention to detail.
Some of the images are in snow, with Snow in the Garden beautifully white, making the season look fun, and Heavy Fall, Beauchamp Hill shows the sky heavy with more snow.
There are also some detailed oil painting close ups of plants in flower beds which concentrate on a simple subject to highlight its beauty. Blackbird is the bird, perched on a branch amid a lot of daisies, and Self Set is some lovely springtime primroses along the edge of a path.
The landscapes are also great. Lots aren’t classic scenes of beauty – like the weather, there’s a concentration on the plain or even gloomy. Chesterton Mill, Notice of Sale, features a building down a muddly lane, surrounded by dark undergrowth. Reflections shows trees reflected in the muddy, rutted earth in a field. Pine Stand is a similar image showing the long row of trees along the centre line of the picture, then a large expense of empty countryside to the right. Cotswold Evening, Aston Subedge, shows a very private cottage with a light on inside, washing blowing outside in the breeze.
The Venice paintings show a mix of familiar scenes and others like Venetian Backwater which capture the scenes behind the main waterways which people don’t normally see.
The whole retrospective shows an excellent collection from a highly-experienced artist which deserves a trip out to be seen.
* The exhibition continues until September 8.