Bristol art – Autumn 2018

Before Nightfall by Nigel Shipley

Before Nightfall by Nigel Shipley

There’s so much art happening in Bristol at present that I barely know where to look first. Last weekend (6th-7th Oct 2018) was Art on the Hill – the ever-inspiring Windmill Hill and Victoria Park arts trail. The Totterdown Front Room Arts Trail will follow from 23rd till 25th November. Can’t wait!

Prior to that, HOURS Gallery is hosting Daydreams, an exhibition of Nigel Shipley‘s abstract paintings, accompanied by music and readings of poetry created in response to the works. Sounds really intriguing! I love work that transcends form in this way. The performers are all members of Bristol Tonic.

Bristol Tonic poet

  • Date: Saturday 13th October 2018
  • Venue: HOURS Gallery, 10 Colston Yard, Bristol BS1 5BD (HOURS is in Colston Yard, accessed from the top of Colston Street, through an archway between Bike Workshop and Blaze)
  • Times: Gallery open from 10am-10pm. Performance from 7-8pm. The exhibition can be viewed by appointment until 1st November, ring 07909874586 to arrange this.
  • For more details, go to: www.nigelshipley.com
Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

Wind by Yurim Gough, part of her Elements artwork

And the RWA’s wonderful Open Exhibition has launched, revealing a spectacular array of works, including Yurim Gough‘s ‘Four Elements’. Definitely one for your calendar! The show is on until 25th November 2018.

Judy Darley in Redcliffe Caves

If you’re seeking further inspiration, don’t forget Bristol Festival of Literature, running from 19th-28th October. I’ll be reading in Redcliffe Caves on Tuesday 23rd October as a guest of Bristol Writer’s Group for an event titled Dark Confessions. There are masses of other curious happenings too, so I’m hoping to get to as many as possible. Hope to see you at an event or two!

An abstract sense of balance

Tropical Colour By Oliver NeedsI initially encountered artist Oliver Needs at The Other Art Fair in Bristol’s Passenger Shed, where his vivid abstract canvasses sang out from his booth like barely controlled visual explosions.

“I developed my abstract style was after painting in a range of styles, and learning and trying out a range of techniques,” he explains. “I love painting and looking at paintings from most centuries. Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism are particularly influential art movements for me.”

Jungle by Oliver Needs

Jungle by Oliver Needs

For Oliver, part of the thrill is the chance to continually learn from the paintings he creates. “My abstract style seems to be still developing, but I often focus on memories and emotions and try to translate this into my painting,” he says. “I express a variety of feelings from the sense one gets walking in nature to that of going out in the busy night life of central London. Each painting tells a different story.”

Prompts to start a new work are mainly rooted in Oliver’s emotions. “I am inspired to make art by the sheer feeling of excitement like a child gets when going into a sweet shop, that sense of variety and colour and joy and happiness,” he enthuses. “Another example would be that of going to the fair ground where each ride offers a new and exciting experience and buzz. Being a creator and artist has ups and downs but the ups are of sharing positive energy and art with others, just as a great musician does with an audience, making a positive difference to our lives.”

Tutti 1 and 2 by Oliver Needs

The process of creating paintings such as Tutti 1 and 2, shown above, usually begins with choosing a base colour, which Oliver layers onto the canvas as it lies flat on the floor. “I then add relatively fluid colours, which I drip or splash onto the canvas, so to speak, rather like Jackson Pollock did as he has been captured in film and photograph a lot.”

The colour choices themselves are a vital component. “Of course, colours have subliminal effects on the mind and therefore, depending on my mood, will change accordingly,” Oliver explains. “I will try to let myself go up to a point and choose each colour according to how I am feeling at a particular moment, but also considering what I feel will work with well with the previous colour applied onto canvas.”

Redwood by Oliver Needs

Redwood by Oliver Needs

He admits that this method is often therapeutic on one level, but adds: “It’s also some kind of internal journey or release. I enjoy the interplay between the colours and lines, just like different chords in music.”

Recognising when a painting is complete can be a challenge. “Knowing when to stop or finish a painting can be a little perplexing but generally it is just about getting a sense of balance and knowing that the colours and movement of paint sits well,” Oliver says. “I guess this is just an artist’s intuition.”

Summer Fun by Oliver Needs

Summer Fun by Oliver Needs

Oliver will be showing his paintings at Parallax Art Fair in Chelsea Town Hall, London from 19th-21st October 2018.

Find Oliver’s work at instagram.com/needsoliver/ and oliverneeds.com.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com. I’m also happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a book review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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A breath of forest air

Totality by Elizabeth JardineThere’s a palpable sense of the coolness, dappled light and breath of a forest in the paintings created by artist Elizabeth Jardine.

“My paintings have developed over the years, but have always been concerned with the idea of a journey, and with interconnectedness and symbiosis,” Elizabeth says. “I’ve had a love of the outdoors from a young age, growing up on the edge of the South Downs National Park, and after my BA I started long distance walking, which immediately fed into my artwork.”

Borderline by Elizabeth Jardine by Elizabeth Jardine

Borderline by Elizabeth Jardine by Elizabeth Jardine

Elizabeth has been painting woodland scenes for about a decade now. “It offers so many compositions and metaphors that I don’t think I’ll ever come to an end,” she says.  “Occasionally other imagery crops up – structures, or people or animals, but usually within a wooded space. I love to build up many layers of paint, working with gravity, light and dark, in parallel to the layers of growth and decay in the woods.”

The wooded rural areas she’s attracted to also provide the chance to explore a site’s social, historical and geographical aspects.

“I’m fascinated by the layers of history embedded in the landscape and I set off on long walks in order to draw them out, looking for echoes of the past,” Elizabeth says. “I tend to work with moving image or develop an artist book for specific research projects, but  wherever I walk I’m inevitably drawn to areas of woodland; these are the places that I feel most at home, and that I feel driven to paint.”

Satellite by Elizabeth Jardine

Satellite by Elizabeth Jardine

Elizabeth describes her paintings as “an intuitive response to place, concerned with the abundance of growing things, the shifting of light and the sense of timelessness you can encounter on a solitary walk in the woods. I explore the emotional response I had to a physical place, and aim to recreate the sense of being drawn through a landscape.”

The paintings offer up a means of communicating the feelings that rise up when viewing the landscape.

“These are the things I like looking at, and it’s lovely to share that with people,” she says. “I always leave space for the viewer in my paintings; I want to create a space where people can be absorbed, and feel drawn into their own journey.”

Drift Derive by Elizabeth Jardine

Drift Derive by Elizabeth Jardine

I ask Elizabeth what tempts her to stroll down a new path and set up easel and paints.

“I guess it’s a universal human condition to want to know what’s down the path, round the corner, get to know the world more deeply,” she replies. “I like to keep moving!”

Taking a full arsenal of art tools isn’t practical for most long distance strolls.

I used to sketch in the field but long distance walking is an activity in itself, you get into a rhythm as you roll through a place,” Elizabeth explains. “Now I use my camera as a sketchbook and starting point for paintings. I refine the compositions within photographs back in the studio as little sketches; then scale them up.”

Dark Matter by Elizabeth Jardine

Dark Matter by Elizabeth Jardine

On walks, Elizabeth carries a backpack of food, tent and various layers “to keep the British weather at bay. My knees aren’t up to carrying an easel as well! It would be interesting to spend a long period of time in one woodland, working in situ, to see how that would change the feel of my paintings.”

Elizabeth adapts her process as her painting progresses.

“At the start there is so much potential, and towards the end it is easy to overdo it; I slow right down,” she says. “I try not to get too tight or precious, but keep the spontaneity and energy of the first strokes. I don’t like to have too much control over the work, as long as it is underpinned by a solid composition, and by a real place that I’ve walked though or slept in.”

Potential Vorticity by Elizabeth Jardine

Potential Vorticity by Elizabeth Jardine

But how does her own frame of mind shift between the beginning of a work of art, and putting down the paintbrush at the moment of completion?

“Watching a painting unfold into some kind of resolution is a process of discovery, like walking round a corner, or taking in a new view,” she says. “I like there to still be a sense of potential, a feeling that it could still grow, or change. For me they feel ‘finished’ when they still sort of hover on the verge of becoming – it keeps them alive.”

Fairway by Elizabeth Jardine

Fairway by Elizabeth Jardine

In 2017 Elizabeth was selected to be resident artist in Yeovil Country Park’s Water:Meadow:Wood project, which aimed to foster greater engagement with the park. “Each year focused on a different element of the park, with a different artist each time,” she says. “My element was Wood, and I worked with children with special educational needs in the wooded areas, using clay to explore the trees and imprint a record of our time there. Creative activities are an amazing way to embed people in a place, encourage them to spend time there, and look closely. The children I worked with gained so much confidence from working outside, and made some wonderful artwork as well as building a sense of togetherness.”

She adds: “I think it creates a sense of belonging too, that of belonging to a place rather than of owning it, which is really important for our health, happiness, community and for the future of the planet.”

Find more of Elizabeth’s work at www.elizabethjardine.com

“If you’d like to be invited to exhibitions and events please join my mailing list – email art@elizabethjardine.com.”

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

The investigative artist

Suspension Bridge at Night by Nigel Shipley

Nigel Shipley has been a firm fixture on Bristol’s art scene since beginning his Bristol Cityscapes series in 2004. Using bold brushstrokes and his own luminous sense of colour, he captures the urban landscape’s spirit as well as its appearance.

An avid curiosity and skilful use of controlled and uncontrolled accidents influence the direction of his work, imbuing his finished pieces with a sense of organic energy.

“Leonardo da Vinci urged artists to search for inspiration in the dirt on walls or the streaked patterns in stones,” Nigel explains when speaking of his own methodology. “In the same way I have found that the accidental blot, the chance mark, or the naturally occurring stain can be a starting point for my art.”

Suspense by Nigel Shipley

An example of such an accident led to Nigel’s painting Suspense (shown above). “Some random marks led to an idea of the tension of two blocks of colour, of the same weight, close to each other, almost touching, but apart,” Nigel says. “The intense red block in this painting became a ground lying at the bottom, and the dark blue/black block came to hover just above at a slight angle. The dark block is forever calmly suspended in space, held in place by the strength of the red block. A stormy landscape emerged behind them.”

This blend of tranquillity and vigour seems to represent the artist himself, as well, as he explores his own impressions of the world and internal emotions with equal interest.

Painting an abstract image is like feeling your way in the dark,” he comments, echoing the sentiment on his website’s About page. “In all of my paintings I try to achieve a sense of space and depth. I try to capture things such as emotions, a sense of calm or energy, a link to nature or an organic process.”

Warm Grey and Yellow Gold by Nigel Shipley

He cites as an example his painting Warm grey and yellow gold (shown above). “The creation of this included painting a board with white acrylic paint and then washing a thin grey oil paint over it and allowing it to gently slide down the front of the board,” says Nigel. “The oil and acrylic paints reacted to each other and the grey paint fractured into tiny cracks. The pattern of these cracks is similar to those you might find in nature, such as when mud dries. This natural cracking process created something of the infinite complexity that we find when we look closely at nature.”

Before falling headlong into abstract painting, Nigel’s work was far more figurative.

June 2013, part of Nigel Shipley's Tango series

June 2013, part of Nigel Shipley’s Tango series

“For many years I painted cityscapes of Bristol, or tango dancers, and these paintings sold well and were popular,” he recalls. “Then I took a break from painting to work on building a new home for myself and when I had time again to paint I decided that my painting was becoming stale and I needed a bigger challenge. I started to look at abstract paintings and then began to create my own.”

Taste of Heaven by Nigel Shipley

Taste of Heaven by Nigel Shipley

The degree of difficulty involved in abstract painting is one of its attractions for Nigel. “I couldn’t return to my previous figurative representations of Bristol harbour, because they would be too easy and I would become bored. I don’t become bored with my abstract paintings, but I may become exasperated as I struggle with them.”

In other words, exasperation is preferable to boredom when it comes to experimenting with paint. This outlook is perhaps shaped by Nigel’s experiences of studying art in the 1970s.

“I didn’t have a happy time at Norwich School of Art in the 70s,” says Nigel. ”They wanted me to create welded steel sculptures, but I didn’t. I left art school feeling disillusioned with fine art world and went on to study cabinetmaking.”

At that time, few artists had the possibility of making a successful living, Nigel says. “I didn’t feel that I fitted in. Coming back to fine art in Bristol in the ’90s I found new opportunities to succeed. I picked up where I had left off twenty years earlier and reinvented my identity as an artist.”

Autumn Landscape by Nigel Shipley

Autumn Landscape by Nigel Shipley

Nigel lives with his partner, professional (and very talented) sculptor and art teacher Sophie Howard. “Her emotional and practical support is very important to my work as an artist,” Nigel says. “I greatly respect her opinion about my work, and sometimes she can give me insights about what I’m doing that I might otherwise have missed. We share a pleasure in seeing art and meeting artists, and living a creative lifestyle.”

Nigel’s creative life is about far more than painting, these days. “I relish how I can use creativity in everything I do,” he says. “I also love tango dancing, and dance at least one evening a week. This is a complex dance with a rich culture of music and Argentina. Recently I took part in a performance on the theme of happiness and pleasure.”

Deep Blue by Nigel Shipley

Deep Blue by Nigel Shipley

Nigel also uses his adeptness at my creative thinking in other parts of his life and work. “For example, when after years of looking Sophie and I could not find the home that we wanted, we decide to build our own Grand Design.

The result is unique home in the centre of Bristol, called Hours. “It incorporates a space that is sometimes an art gallery, and at other times a dance hall, or a venue for creative writing, poetry, yoga and much more.”

Far Horizon by Nigel Shipley

You can see all of Nigel’s currently available paintings at www.nigelshipley.com. “I will have an exhibition of my paintings at HOURS (Colston Yard, Bristol) on 13th October. I have a studio at Unit 5, Barton Manor, Old Market, Bristol, BS2 0RL, and I’m happy to meet people there if they would like to see how I work. I have recently taken part in the Bristol Other Art Fair which was organised by Saatchi Art and included 100 artists from around the world chosen from 500 who applied. I plan to take part in this again in 2019.”

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

Sewn in memoriam

Shrouds of the Somme by artist Rob Heard. Photo by Judy Darley

On a visit to Salisbury Cathedral earlier this summer, I encountered an unexpected sight: 1,561 miniature figures wrapped in hand sewn calico shrouds, laid out in centre of the cloister.

It stopped my friend and I in our tracks. Each of them represents a soldier killed at the Somme during World War I; the ones shown here are only a fraction of the full number being sewn and bound by artist Rob Heard. The 1,561 exhibited in Salisbury Cathedral represented each day that World War I lasted, while each shroud marks an individual who lost their life to the conflict.

It was a sobering display, and a visceral reminder of the sacrifices made through the folly of war. Powerfully moving.

Shrouds of the Somme by Rob Heard. Photo by Judy Darley

The Shroud Project exhibit has since left the cathedral grounds, and has since been on are on show in Exeter. They’ll be in Belfast from 23rd August until 16th September. Artist Rob Heard has continued to work on the project, aiming to complete 72,396 shrouded figures by November 8th-18th. This immense number mirrors the total tally of bodies of British servicemen (and South African infantrymen) who have no known grave. From 8th-18th November, the figures will be laid out at London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to form a focal point as the nation marks the centenary of Armistice Day.

As he shrouds each of the thousands of figures, Heard considers a name from a list of the fallen provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, ensuring each is remembered and honoured through his painstaking artwork.

Find out about the Les Colomes exhibition at Salisbury Cathedral.

Seen anything interesting recently? I’d love to know. I’m always happy to receive reviews of books, art, theatre and film. To submit or suggest a review, please send an email to judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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Language Shift – an exhibition of endangered words

Language Shift at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library, Envy by Mary Kuper

Language Shift at Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Library. Envy by Mary Kuper

This summer, Southbank Centre, London, is showcasing Language Shift, an exhibition of work by artist Mary Kuper created response to the National Poetry Library’s collection of poems in European languages.

In many ways, poetry is the written form that most celebrates and utilises the power and nuance of language. The Endangered Poetry Project has been launched by  in a bid to preserve poems written as launched its Endangered Poetry Project with the aim of collecting poems in at-risk languages, and acknowledging the disturbing fact that languages die out at the rate of one every two weeks.

Language Shift at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library_works by Mary Kuper; photograph by Pete Woodhead3

“For the Language Shift exhibition, Kuper has created visual works which exist as equivalent worlds to the poems they respond to and collectively create a visual map,” says Chris McCabe, Southbank Centre’s National Poetry Librarian. “These new works respond to languages that feature on UNESCO’s world map of endangered languages including Breton, Alsatian, Sardinian and Shetlandic.”

Language Shift at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library_works by Mary Kuper; photograph by Pete Woodhead3

If you’ve ever listened to poetry read aloud in a language you’re unfamiliar with, you’ll be aware how immediately relatable cadence and delivery can render words in verse, making connections at unexpected emotional and cerebral levels. Kuper’s work is supported by a display of poetry films and poems in translation from the Talking Transformations project, curated by Ricarda Vidal and Manuela Perteghella, which offers a chance to sample this first hand. The poems shared inTalking Transformations focus on the idea of ‘home’ and ‘migration’ and reveal part of the poems’ journey through  the UK, Romania, Poland, France and Spain.

The perfect chance to take in the resonance of Europe’s diverse languages and shared human experiences.

Language Shift at Southbank Centre's National Poetry Library; works by Mary Kuper_photograph by Pete Woodhead2

Image credit: works by Mary Kuper; photographs by Pete Woodhead.

Language Shift is on at National Poetry Library (Level 5, Blue side, Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London SE1 8XX) until 23rd September 2018, and is free to visit.

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Flash Walk – the stories

Flash Walk 2018. Photo by Judy DarleyOn Saturday 16th June I hosted a Flash Walk as part of the National Flash Fiction Day celebrations. We invited competition entries on the theme of Urban Landscapes, between 40 and 400 words in length. Wonderful submissions arrived from all over the world, which we managed to narrow down to 12 winning entries.

Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken.

The stories were performed by actors Ashley Green, Christopher Ryan and Poppy Hocken, during the #FlashWalk from Bristol’s M Shedon Bristol Harbourside to The GreenHouse It was a wonderful to lead our audience across the city, and attract a few curious folks along the way. The rain held off until the very last story!

The winning stories are incredibly varied. Some are funny, some moving, some thought-provoking, some a touch surreal. You can read a selection of them here. Continue reading

Art as a sensory experience

Gloaming by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Gloaming by Ange Mullen-Bryan

For artist Ange Mullen-Bryan, creating paintings is a sensory experience. For starters, there are the materials she uses: oil as a medium and canvas or linen as a base. “I often use coloured linens, using that colour as part of the painting and often leaving areas of the linen unpainted as part of the image,” Ange says. “Sometimes while on location in Sweden I paint with acrylic on unprimed plywood panels using the wood grain and texture as part of the work, again leaving areas unpainted.”

Evig - eternal by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Evig – eternal by Ange Mullen-Bryan

The texture of these materials is important to Ange. “I paint very intuitively and instinctively,” she explains. “Light conditions, choice of music and even smells contribute to the work. The mood of a painting is established as much in the studio as it is in my mind.”

Nearly all of Ange’s paintings are inspired by the landscape of Sweden or other remote Scandinavian locations. “I have been visiting a part of central Sweden for the last 21 years,” she says. “We stay in a cabin a few feet from the lake shore with no running water and no electrics. It is a very important place to me and its remote and beautiful landscape provides endless inspiration and scope for new work.”

Regn by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Regn by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Rural scenery, Ange says, serves as a vehicle “to describe emotions and experience through the medium of painting. Each painting is a journey to somewhere I don’t really know.”

Intriguingly, each work of art is a voyage of discovery. “The painting reveals itself along the way and is often very different from the place in which I began,” Ange says. “The initial idea that made me start the painting is often left far behind as the painting takes its own path and I follow it. I try not to think too much and give myself up to the journey, that’s where the painting really begins, when you are no longer consciously aware of it.”

Borta - Gone by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Borta – Gone by Ange Mullen-Bryan

For Ange the greatest pleasure is, as she put it, “That opportunity to enter into that altered state, that flow state you hear many artists and musicians talk about it. It’s rare and fleeting and the thing you are always trying to achieve. And if you find it you cannot be conscious of it, otherwise it’s lost again by the very fact that you have become aware of it.”

Completing a painting offers up is own set of emotions. “There are a few moments after you finish a painting when you feel certain and complete and relieved, when it is finished and the whirlwind of compulsion to make something is over,” Ange says. “Sometimes that moment comes after a few hours or many months but that certainty about what you do is also really rewarding. And then the process begins all over again.”

Floodlight by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Floodlight by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Despite seeking creative paths throughout her life, Ange didn’t begin to think of herself as an artist until she was in her 20s. “I was very interested in photography and spent endless hours at secondary school in a small cupboard that had been made into a darkroom,” she recalls. “I also liked pottery and lace making, textiles and so on, but also creative writing was really important to me.”

While in the midst of her Art foundation year, Ange had the opportunity to make large oil paintings. “Suddenly it all made perfect sense and I had a language that I totally understood in a different way to anything else,” she says. “But it was probably about 10 years after that that I really found my own way of painting, and I was painting consistently throughout that time. I was steadily learning to find my own voice, I guess.”

Photography, collage, textiles and creative writing are all still a huge part of Ange’s creative practise.

Milk Herb by Ange Mullen-Bryan

Milk Herb by Ange Mullen-Bryan

“Some of my work is exhibited at the St Michaels Bistro in Painswick, Gloucestershire (The Painswick Centre, Bisley Street, Painswick. Gloucestershire. GL6 6QQ), at the moment. Also my studio is an open one so you can call in and meet me and view the work, she says, adding: “Generally by appointment works best.”

Find Ange on Instagram as @ange_jolene, on Twitter as @Angelajolene, and at her website www.angemullenbryan.com.

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.

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A global odyssey

Starry Roundscape by Hattie Buckwell

Starry Roundscape by Hattie Buckwell

Discovering the imaginative illustrations created by Hattie Buckwell is a little like finding an opening in the back of your wardrobe, and stumbling out into the version of the world you always hoped was true.

It’s an impression only deepened by the shape of her Dreamscapes Within Roundscapes series, offering the sense of looking through a telescope or porthole.

“I have a bit of thing for circles, painting within a circle is much closer to what we see through circular pupils,” Hattie admits. “Our field of vision is somewhere between a circle and an oval so I love this way of illustrating.” 

Mountains to Climb Oceans to Swim

Mountains to Climb Oceans to Swim by Hattie Buckwell

Inspiration often comes to light when Hattie is on the move. My series of ‘Homes of the World’ came from a love of travelling – imagining what its like to live up a treehouse or surrounded by snow-capped mountains,” Hattie says. “I love to paint places I’ve been (or want to go to), recording what it feels like to be in a particular part of the world.”

Homes of the World by Hattie Buckwell

Homes of the World by Hattie Buckwell

As you might expect, lots of Hattie’s illustrations stem from her love of walking amid nature, and from her passion for travel. “I always have a sketchbook on me and draw a lot, bringing together elements from different ideas into paintings later.”

Hattie also loves watching documentaries and reading ‘proper nature encyclopaedias’. “I really enjoy of infographics of all kinds, learning with pictures, symbols on maps,” she says. “Some of my illustrations came from a want for a visual guide to something, for example, ‘Eat Fresh’ is an illustrated guide to what food is in season.”

Eat Fresh by Hattie Buckwell

Eat Fresh by Hattie Buckwell

In fact, many of Hattie’s artwork titles read like instructions for living well and enjoying life: Eat fresh, explore, feast, swim wild…

There’s a real sense of narrative in Hattie’s illustrations, which I find irresistibly enticing.

I often work on a series of illustrations, with individual pieces coming together to tell a story,” she comments. “I recently completed my ‘Explore’ Series, playing with illustrating tiny people exploring vast natural landscapes. Some by canoe, some skiing down slopes, some pulled by huskies. Through illustration I can create miniature worlds for the viewer to explore. I enjoy adding tiny details to spot little going-on’s within the tiny worlds seen in the paintings.”

Surfing by Hattie Buckwell

Surfing by Hattie Buckwell

Various elements of Hattie’s past and present influences these tiny worlds.

I grew up doing house-swaps with my family, swapping homes with people living all over the world,” she recalls. “So much more than a holiday, it allows you to really get a feel for life on the other side of the world. I feel very lucky to have so many memories and photos to draw inspiration from. Now I live in Bristol, such a thriving creative community and always so much to see and do – it is a constant source of energy to make.”

When I first picked up one of Hattie’s business cards, she described herself as a textile artist, a element of her past that immediately intrigued me, especially with reference to its impact on her art today.

Koi by Hattie Buckwell

Koi by Hattie Buckwell

“I trained as a textile artist – my work was based around colour, colour mixing, traditional dyeing and print techniques, and creating repeat prints from my illustrations,” she tells me. “At the beginning of a painting I still use a lot of the same processes of testing colours, playing with different layers of detail. I love to dye and play with textiles, but my first love was always in drawing & painting. The simplicity of working on sheets of paper, I feel freer to concentrate on the illustration itself.”

She still finds a lot of  satisfaction in creating a design which repeats perfectly, “like ‘Koi’. In the future I would love to work on some more repeat illustrations which could be printed on fabric, but for now I’m still revelling in the simplicity of paper and colour.”

Swim Wild by Hattie Buckwell

Swim Wild by Hattie Buckwell

Being an artist suit Hattie’s free spirit perfectly. “I love that every day is different, and that I can work on lots of different projects at once,” she says. “If it’s a sunny Monday I can just go and explore or spend the day planting in the garden if I want to. When I first went to art collage, I couldn’t believe that I could work on creative projects all day. Now I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else! It’s been a lot of hard work to get to where I am today, but I’m so proud to be able to do this full-time.”

Feast by Hattie Buckwell

Feast by Hattie Buckwell

Hattie co-owns Blaze shop and studio at 84 Colston Street in Central Bristol, “so naturally this has the best selection of my work. It’s a co-operative run by artists and we are proud to sell the work of more than 60 Makers living in Bristol, from printmaking to ceramics to original paintings. It’s right in the middle of the Christmas Steps Arts Quarter which has so many fantastic independent shops to explore.”

Check out Hattie’s website www.hattiebuckwell.co.uk to see more of her work and her online shop, and find a list of current stockists. Hattie’s artworks make great writing prompts too!

Are you an artist or do you know an artist who would like to be showcased on SkyLightRain.com? Get in touch at judydarley(at)iCloud.com.SaveSave

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Textures of the River Lea

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View 74When is a ream of rope more than a ream of rope? When it’s an art installation, of course!

Running until 24th June 2018, Raw Materials: Textiles celebrates the historic textile trade that once thrived along the River Lea. Taking place at Bow Arts Nunnery Gallery (Nunnery Gallery, Bow Arts, 181 Bow Road, London E3 2SJ) and supported by The National Lottery with funds awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund, it’s a chance to experience the textures of London’s textile heritage in vivid detail.

It’s also an exceptional opportunity to soak up stories of silk-weaving, calico printing, jute spinning and the invention of dye colours – the jobs that once areas including Hackney Wick, Stratford, West Ham and Walthamstow with activity.

Images, from left printed cotton, Robert Jones & Co, Old Ford, English 1769 cr Victoria and Albert Museum, London, family photograph, courtesy Sam Stockman, Freya Gabie, research experiment for Before, After and Between 2018 cr Freya Gabie

Images, from left printed cotton, Robert Jones & Co, Old Ford, English 1769 cr Victoria and Albert Museum, London, family photograph, courtesy Sam Stockman, Freya Gabie, research experiment for Before, After and Between 2018 cr Freya Gabie

Exhibits include loans of historic fabric produced in the area, such as the Georgian calico from Old Ford courtesy of the V&A, shown above. There’s also a River Lea-inspired design by William Morris.

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View High Res-45

The curators say: “Newly commissioned work will also be unveiled from resident artists Freya Gabie,whose conceptual sculpture explores trinitrotoluene, the yellow dye that was later used as an explosive – and Sarah Desmarias, whose textiles use traditional dye and printing methods, including the dye-fast use of the colour madder that was first patented in Hackney Wick.”

Bow Arts Raw Materials Textiles Installation View High Res-61

They add: “Working with project partners that include local archives, London College of Fashion, Jewish Museum London and the V&A, much of the exhibition content has been driven by a community steering group, keen to unearth the stories of their local area’s past.”

Alongside the show you can dig into a lively event programme, including walking and boat tours along the River Lea, artist-led workshops and panel discussions.

Find full details here www.bowarts.org/nunnery/raw-materials-textiles.

Got an event, exhibition, venue, challenge, competition or call for submissions you’d like to draw my attention to? Send me an email at judydarley(at)iCloud(dot)com.