Friday, 8 February 2013

Artist in residence ...

When Emma Holliday suggested spending a day painting in the gallery I jumped at the idea.  I thought it would be a great opportunity for visitors to the gallery to see the process of creating a painting alongside the current exhibition which is a group show of North East artists, including several of Emma's paintings.

Emma asked whether I could set up a still life for her and because it was a Farmer's Market Day in Stokesley ( ) I thought it would be nice to get a selection of produce from the market.  So on Saturday morning I set off early to the Farmer's Market to find interesting things to paint.  I had an idea that I would get a chilli plant as there is usually a lovely stall selling all sizes and shapes of chilli plants and chilli-related produce so was extremely dismayed to discover that the stall wasn't there!  At the exhibition preview the previous evening I had jokingly told Emma that I would get her some sausages to paint (Emma is a vegetarian so was not terribly keen) and for a moment I thought I might have to go with the sausage option afterall. 

However, a short stroll round the market revealed a wonderful stall selling a fantastic array of wild mushrooms.  I got a selection of particularly visually appealing mushrooms (though when I told the stallholder that I needed pretty specimens as they were going to be painted not eaten, I think he thought I was mad!).  I also got some lovely crusty bread and some smelly cheeses (which proved slightly unfortunate as they warmed up during the day in the gallery!).

Emma had a great day painting and met and chatted to lots of people.  I think her painting is a great success and will soon be on show in the gallery alongside her other works. 
"Wood Blewitts, Boletes and a Pink Oyster!"

Thursday, 31 January 2013

North East Artists

The first exhibition of 2013 is about to open in the gallery.  This year our exhibitions are group exhibitions of regional artists and the first one features the work of artists from the North East.  It's a diverse selection of artists with the work of two painters, three printmakers and a glass artist.

Anthony Marshall is a Northumbrian artist who paints wonderfully vivid landscapes and cityscapes.  Probably best known for his scenes of Newcastle, in this show Tony's work is predominantly of North Yorkshire scenes, including Whitby, Robin Hood's Bay and Skipton.  The paintings are already attracting a great deal of attention and certainly brighten even the dullest January day!

"Whitby Harbour" Anthony Marshall

Printmaker Anja Percival's etchings are subtley atmospheric and create calm, thought provoking images.  Anja, who is based in Durham, was one of the artists whose work was selected for inclusion in the permanent collection of the House of Lords last February ( 

"Station Light XI" Anja Percival

The work of two other printmakers from Northumberland, Janet Dickson and Carol Nunan, are also included in the show.  Janet's exquisite monotypes, linocuts and lithographs are often inspired by gardens and plant forms and her use of muted colour combinations contrast with strongly linear plant forms. 

"Autumn Gold - Birch Trees series" Janet Dickson

Carol also produces monotypes and collagraphs of plant forms but her works are much more textural, creating bold designs which are also featured on her range of hand made lamps, tea light holders and coasters.

"Echinacea Lamp" Carol Nunan

The sculptural glass of Joanne Mitchell is stunning for the simplicity of its elegant forms and beautiful jewel-like colours.  Her work was featured in this month's "Galleries" magazine and is increasingly sought after by glass collectors nationwide.

"Void" Joanne Mitchell

Finally, painter Emma Holliday's lively paintings add a touch of vibrancy to the show.  Emma likes to work "on the spot", frequently enduring the worst the British weather can throw at her.  On one painting trip to Stokesley, while painting by the river Leven on a snowy winter day, a local resident took pity on her and popped out to ask whether she would like a cup of tea.  Emma has had a soft spot for Stokesley ever since! 

"Tulips, Map and Fruit" Emma Holliday

Emma will be painting in the gallery on Saturday 2nd February so why not come along and see a work in progress?

Saturday, 17 November 2012

In the Bleak Midwinter

Why not enjoy the magic of the winter this year without getting cold?  The new exhibition at Bianco Nero gallery, “In the Bleak Midwinter”, features the work of wildlife and landscape artists with a wintry theme.

"Bullfinch" by Esther Tyson
Among the artists exhibiting work in the show is Esther Tyson, a member of the Society of Wildlife Artists who successfully submitted two paintings to be part of the House of Lords permanent collection earlier this year.  Esther’s delightful paintings depict many of the common winter visitors to our gardens and hedgerows – sparrows, robins and goldfinches – and capture wonderfully their individual character traits. 

"Ice River Teal" by Ingeborg Smith
Scottish artist Ingeborg Smith’s work often portrays more unusual or secretive creatures, set within glistening winter landscapes.  One of her charming paintings is entitled “Ice River Teal” and depicts two dabbling ducks beside a frosted river.  Several local artists will also be showing work including Robert Newton’s dramatic northern landscapes from Northumberland and Yorkshire, Winifred Hodge’s evocative depictions of the Dales and Stephen Heward’s strong, painterly images. 

"Thixendale, Winter" by Stephen Heward
The exhibition also features the stunning collection of stoneware ceramic animals by Jane Silk, whose quirky “spotted hens” have recently been featured in Country Living magazine.  Even a new collection of jewellery is inspired by the great outdoors.  Jeweller Grace Girvan is originally from Orkney and her silver jewellery features sea-smoothed pebbles and driftwood fragments inspired by her days spent beach-combing as a child. 

Necklace by Grace Girvan
You will also find unique, handmade artist’s cards, prints, stunning hand-blown glass and locally made beaded jewellery in our winter wonderland.  The exhibition runs until Christmas Eve.  

Friday, 9 November 2012

The Christmas Window Display

A few weeks ago I was scratching my head trying to think how I could make this year's Christmas window interesting and fun.  As I was looking at Jane Silk's wonderful ceramic creations that I will be showing, and the delivery note (3 x spotty hens, 2 x turtle doves etc.) I had a brainwave (and if I wasn't  lacking in any musical ability whatsoever may well have burst into song).  This year the theme for the window will be "The Five Days of Christmas" ... Five Dabbling Ducks, Four Darting Deer, Three Spotted Hens, Two Turtle Doves and A Guinea Fowl in a Gallery!  Admittedly, it's a slight deviation from tradition but the idea is shaping up nicely and I'm really looking forward to putting it all together next week.
In the meantime here is a sneak preview of some of the ceramics:
"Three Spotted Hens"
(You'll have to come and see the window display to meet the third!)
"Two Turtle Doves"
"And a Guinea Fowl in a Gallery!"
Jane, who is based in Sussex, actually delivered the ceramics to the gallery while she was doing the Coast to Coast Walk in the summer.  Fortunately her back-up crew were able to transport the ceramics so that Jane didn't have to carry them all the way from Cumbria in her rucksack!
The window display will be ready in time for next week's preview evening on Friday 16th November so please come along to meet the remaining cast members!
(Thanks also to Dave for his very helpful offer to provide me with "Six Sparkly Santas" to add a touch of bling to the gallery but we are aiming for the "understated and elegant" look!)

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Fanciful Flights

After our annual break for Stokesley Agricultural Show and Fair, the gallery is about to reopen with a burst of colour and frivolity for the Autumn.  The new exhibition features the work of three artists, Sarah Morpeth, Colin Smithson and Sheila Smithson. 
Sarah is a Northumberland artist who, after practicing as a solicitor in London for ten years, decided to have a complete change of direction and study for a degree in Embroidery at Manchester Metropolitan University.  She moved back to live in the heart of the Northumberland National Park, where her work takes inspiration from the landscape around her, as well as from films and books - with which she has surrounded herself all her life.  The work included in this exhibition takes the form of handmade books and three dimensional pieces as well as framed cut paper works.  They are wonderfully intricate pieces, incorporating subtle colour, print, and hand colouring.

Colin Smithson was born in Liverpool and attributes his sense of humour in is work to his Liverpudlian back-ground. He paints in acrylic and oils; his work has illustrative qualities, inspired originally by a love for the Yorkshire Dales where he has lived, worked and exhibited since the 1970s. He uses strong colour and texture in his paintings to recall small observed moments which invoke a strong sense of place with drama and sometimes humour. The wonderful thing about Colin's work is that however long you have studied one of his paintings, you will go back to it again and again and notice some small, quirky detail - a parrot squawking in the window or a sheep in a tight spot - that you had not seen before.

Sheila last showed her work in Bianco Nero last summer in the exhibition "Up the Garden Path". In this exhibition she has continued to explore the theme of gardens as a "Flight of Fancy" and her paintings are rich in detail, texture and colour. In a similar vein to her husband Colin's work, Sheila also treats the viewer to hidden glimpses into forgotten or overlooked corners. Her work is unashamedly decorative but also visually rich and exciting.
The exhibtion starts with a preview evening on Friday 28th September and runs on through the Autumn until 10th November.  It's definitely worth a look, and then another look, and another ....

Thursday, 2 August 2012

“Ebb and Flow”

An exhibition of recent work by Clare Money, Peter Sarginson and Jim Wright

Now that the summer holidays have arrived, it’s always nice to spend some time beside the sea, but just in case the British Summer weather lets us down, it might be a good idea to head to the gallery instead!  The new exhibition, entitled “Ebb and Flow” celebrates the drama and beauty of the sea, whether in glorious sunshine with the light sparkling off the water, or in its less benign state, with the majestic pounding of stormy waves. 

"Sunrise" by Clare Money

The work of three artists from the North East will be on show.  Clare Money from Whitley Bay is renowned for her large scale paintings and pastels of the North East coastline, sometimes incorporating aspects of the region's industrial heritage.  Her recent post graduate studies in Newcastle have led her to explore a sense of place and how to convey it in her paintings, and her coastal landscapes on show in this exhibition certainly convey the strong identity of our magnificent coastline.

"Towards the Pier, Saltburn" by Peter Sarginson

Peter Sarginson was born and raised in Marske-by-the-Sea, in Cleveland.  His paintings reflect his obsessions with the sea, the tide and the water's edge, with many featuring the interplay of water and the beach.  "In the 1950s I used to take my Jack Russell dog, Scamp, along the beach nearly every day," said Mr Sarginson, who still returns to paint there and at Saltburn, Sandsend and Whitby.  "It was the atmosphere and all the elements of it that inspired me as an artist - it's kind of spiritual, almost." 

"Lost Horizon, Barra" by Jim Wright
Kirkbymoorside artist Jim Wright’s work is an emotional response to his experiences in the more remote areas of the moors, mountains and coastline of Northern Britain, feeling the full power of the energy in these places, and transferring this energy into his painting. He says “It is the quality of light and the energy of the sea that I strive to capture”.
All three artists will be at the exhibition preview from 6.30 to 8.30pm on Friday 3rd August.  The exhibition runs until 14th September.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Art for the House of Lords!

A few weeks ago I was very excited to be invited by the House of Lords Works of Art Committee to submit works for consideration for display in the newly refurbished offices and communal areas of Millbank House. 

The works were required to fulfil a number of specific criteria, in particular that the subject of the work of art represented the UK in some way – whether it be a representation of an area of the UK or an aspect of its cultural, technological or industrial heritage or its flora and fauna.

Putting together a suitable portfolio of work was extremely challenging but great fun and eventually I selected a group of nine artists, submitting a total of 20 works.  I tried to select a variety of works that would fulfil the selection criteria and also work well as a group. 

"Where Turner once Sat" by Emerson Mayes

Works by Emerson Mayes of Fountains Abbey and by Anja Percival of Durham Cathedral were selected to represent the architectural heritage of UK. 

"Cathedral Light IX" by Anja Percival

Esther Tyson's wonderful bird paintings represented the UK's flora and fauna. 

"Goldfinch on Feeder" by Esther Tyson

Irene Sanderson submitted some of her beautiful Chinese ink paintings of the landscapes around her home in Cumbria and  Patricia Haskey Knowles from Lancashire submitted a dramatic seascape of Morecambe Bay.  Paintings of the west coast of Scotland and the North York Moors were submitted by Jim Wright from Kirkbymoorside.

"Cross Fell Heather" by Irene Sanderson

"Approaching Storm - Morecambe Bay" by Patricia Haskey Knowles

"Chimney Bank Rosedale" by Jim Wright

Lynne Wixon's exciting work based on coastal structures combined studies of specific regions of the UK with references to our industrial heritage.

"Whitby West Pier" by Lynne Wixon

And finally Linda Farquharson's quirky linocuts added a touch of humour, depicting the very British sports of croquet and bowls!

"Running the Hoops" by Linda Farquharson

After a very eventful trip to London with the portfolio of work, involving cancelled trains, unhelpful taxi drivers and getting lost in a less than salubrious area of London, I spent 2 weeks with my fingers crossed, hoping that I would not have to make another trip back to London to collect all 20 works.

Last week I got the excellent news that 17 of the works had been selected!  This was a much better result than I had dared to hope for and I then had the very pleasant task of letting the successful artists know the good news.

It's really thrilling to think that so many works by artists I know are now in the permanent collection of the House of Lords!  Thank you to all the artists involved for their time and hard work.