Month: December 2016

Rugby Open provides showcase for local talent in lots of media

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Graham Grimmett’s Tread Lightly, Walk True (Nature Morte)

The Rugby Open exhibition is on again, showing an interesting diversity of works.

Apparently 236 items were entered, and 97 have made it through to the exhibition, with a few artists showing two or three pieces. Paintings not surprisingly dominate, but there is a good variety of style and content, plus works in other mediums.

Tony Baker’s We Are Sailing is one of the few photographs, and taken from an interesting angle, looking down at a selection of balconies on a cruise boat, and the people on them. Another photograph is Jean Sutton’s Patterns of Birmingham, showing swirly reflections in metal.

Linda Cavan’s The Red Speck is strangely compelling, a small red speck on an inkpen drawing of what looks like some sort of bag or container.

Lilly Martina Gardener, a former winner of the Rugby Open, has two works on show, Winter Snows over Weedon, showing people walking along in a snowy scene at her home village, and Blackbirds and Tea. Both are in her distinctive style, which appears to be influenced by Henri Rousseau, with every bit of the canvas covered in activity and colour, with dense fronds of greenery.

Julie Bett’s Reflections is a landscape in mixed media, a bit Piper-esque. Nancy Upshall has two colourful abstract paintings in the show including The Bridge, a collection of small shaped colours creating a path across the canvas.

Eric Gaskell is another familiar name at Rugby Opens, and he has three linocuts featured, including one which called Boxed Boundaries – a linocut slider game, which is unusual. Helena Godwins’s sculpture Cat & Mice is made out of a breeze block so has a strange, holey, texture to it.

Roger Griffiths is also a known name from Rugby exhibitions, and his Rugby Cement from King’s Newnham watercolour shows a well-known Rugby site too, the huge building towering over colourful out-of-perspective landscapes. Val Hunt’s sculptures made from drink can metal are familiar and the one on show here is particularly charming, entitled “A conference of endangered birds discussing their future. Nightingale, lapwing, barn owl, cuckoo and house sparrow”, with the birds, looking very knowing, sitting on a branch together.

I’ve seen Bryan B Kelly’s work in Leamington before and The Folly is in his usual exuberant style, with lots of colour, the paint applied in dots, and a regular pattern to the scene.

Linda Keller has created Coventry Cathedral out of acrylic paint and mixed media, and Susan Moreton’s In the Footsteps of Monks is also a mixed media of what looks like a monastery or cloister.

Helen McChesney’s three oil painted landscapes are very pleasant to view, with pale colours, entitled Summer, The Wheat Field and The Ploughed Field. Neil Moore, former Leamington Open winner, is exhibiting The Lightness of Darkness, an oil painting of a person lying down in his highly realistic style.

Gérard Mermoz, a former winner of both Rugby and Coventry Opens, is showing Interior, two classic old paintings of women in domestic scenes becoming one by being placed on top of each other.

Teresa Wells’s Hashtag Tragedy Take 2 is an unusual sculptural installation of several small naked models on the floor, some enacting a boat capsizing tragedy and others watching it or filming it. Graham Grimmett’s Tread Lightly, Walk True (Nature More) is a plastic resin creation, sticking out from the wall full of colourful bright flowers.

It’s an interesting variety of work with something for all to enjoy, and is on until January 14.

  • The exhibition winner was David Broadfield, for his charcoal work Lime, Newnham Paddox. David Kearney won the World Rugby award for his watercolour and pen and ink work Winter Trees, Val Hunt’s drink can metal sculpture mentioned above won the Rugby Decorative and Fine Art Society award and Roger Griffiths won the Brethertons LLP award for Newton Rugby.
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Nina Cashmore’s Lisa

Blurred lines and bold colours shape Hichmough retrospective

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Colin Hitchmough, Dictionary of Silences (Aurora Bognorealis), 2015, acrylic on canvas

A display of bold and sometimes baffling works fills a Warwickshire gallery, showing many work’s from an artist’s long career.
Dictionary of Silences is a retrospective of paintings by Colin Hichmough, who lived in Leamington for many years, and whose works are now being shown in the Leamington Spa Art Gallery & Museum until January 8.

Hitchmough studied fine art at Liverpool College of Art in the late 1960s, and then Birmingham College of Art. He then worked in Rugby for three years, before moving to Leamington where he lived until 2009, most of the time teaching at Warwickshire College. He also taught on the Fine Art Degree Course at Leamington Warwickshire College and the University of Central England. He is married with two sons, and now lives with his wife on the West Sussex coast.

This exhibition shows works dating from the 1970s to the present day.

In a well-written and attractive brochure to go with the exhibition, senior curator Chloe Johnson writes that “the ideas underpinning Hitchmough’s works are varied, but they deal with one single, complex concern: the notion of painting”.

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Colin Hitchmough, Flag, 1982, acrylic on canvas, collection: Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum

He was also exploring the physical materials used in painting, and began to suspend canvases like banners or flags rather than stretching them. In the 1980s the focus switched apparently to the surface of paintings and fluid brush work, and in the 1990s to box-like shapes, or “containers for ideas”.

The People’s Flag from 1982 is a big mostly black canvas with white stripes, and another from 1972 is blue and textured, looking like denim, with an almost tie-dye look to it. Untitled from 1971 is the earliest work in this show, and takes up one wall of the gallery, a T-shaped work with bits pulled up and held there, subverting the idea of the flat canvas.

New York House from 2001 is very different, mostly black with a six dark grey and white, sharp-sided rectangles painted in the bottom.

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Colin Hitchmough, NY House, 2001, acrylic on canvas

Terrapins and some similar works combine wood and canvas with sticky substances to create things that look organic and wholly fake at the same time.

Small silences from 2014 is a series of small works with parallel hand-drawn black lines stacked up like papers, or further apart to change the unity of the work. This is one of the works inspired by a holiday visit where Hitchmough misheard a guide talking about what he thought was a Dictionary of Silences, and the lines represent piled up canvases. The Dictionary of Silences painting is large and black, with imposing white blurred lines across it.

It’s an interesting exhibition which in many ways I struggled with at face value, but Chloe’s writing and the useful information on the gallery walls brought more knowledge and understanding to what is a large body of work, in more ways than one.