Over 300 items by members of the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain. Artistry and craftsmanship come together in wonderful items exploiting the varied qualities of wood. From the traditional to contemporary, a diverse show also incorporating colour,carving, texture and a mix of other mediums. Exhibition includes 118 items from the Ray Key collaboration project.
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We are delighted that the Association of Woodturners of Great Britain are staging this exhibition of turned wood with nature very much in mind. It offers a wonderful opportunity to see a host of techniques exploited to bring out the beauty in wood – art from the tree. The exhibition includes a large number of pieces, of varying scales, and is made up of three different sections.
The first is ‘The Ray Key collaboration’. This came about after many part turned pieces were found in the workshop of Ray Key BEM after he died in September 2018. Ray was the founder and president of the AWGB. The part turned pieces were sent out to turners from five continents for them to finish in their own style. 118 pieces were returned revealing a vast array of different techniques and styles representing a unique collection of work. These will all be exhibited at Nature in Art and at a later date auctioned, partly in aid of the AWGB.
Ray was a very influential turner who revelled in the beauty of wood. He said, ‘My work embraces minimalism; my quest is to produce objects of beauty and elegant simplicity. I am a great believer of the object as a whole; not a disjointed assemblage of different ones. ‘Keep it simple stupid’, ‘let the wood speak for itself’ and ‘if in doubt leave it out’ are my design bywords’. One of his great delights too was his sense that in his time this ancient craft is now accepted as an ‘art form’.’
A preview of the Ray Key Collaboration pieces can be seen on the AWGB website: www.awgb.co.uk/ray-key-collaboration
The second grouping is ‘The Masters’ which showcases the work of Ray Key (the first person ever to be awarded the title), Reg Hawthorne and Stuart Mortimer. All three were awarded the title of ‘Master Turner’ by the Worshipful Company of Turners. (The Turners’ Company is one of the oldest Livery Companies in the City of London. Its origins go back to early medieval times: the first reference to a London turner dates back to 1189.) Many of these Master pieces will be available for purchase at the exhibition.
The third section are by AWGB members and are a selection of the best pieces chosen from their international seminar which took place last October along with some additional pieces from local turners. Many of these pieces will also be available for purchase at the exhibition.
For the first week of the exhibition (2nd – 7th July) we will also have a lathe and demonstrations taking place in the studio.
The AWGB is a national charity which aims to promote woodturning to ensure the craft continues and to advance education in woodturning. It currently has over 3000 members, including makers abroad, and has 50 local UK branches, including in Gloucestershire. Phil Irons, who has a spectacular large vessel in the Nature in Art collection, was elected President of AWGB earlier this year.
An exhibition of original cartoons and paintings by the renowned Norman Thelwell (1923 – 2004).
Norman Thelwell is one of the most popular cartoonists to have worked in Britain since the Second World War. Although best known for his images of girls and their fat ponies, his work is far more wide ranging than many realise. The countryside and environment were passions that informed his work throughout his life and his cartoons were a powerful way for him to comment on issues of the day.
This exhibition of original artwork has generously been lent by the family archive and, although it includes a few of his renowned horse and pony pictures, it also embraces serious paintings completed purely for pleasure, and drawn and painted cartoons with relevance to nature, the countryside and environment and the human impact upon them. Together they reveal not just his skill as an artist, but also his mastery of sharp social comment and his awareness of then current and future threats. He used satire to convey serious messages about the need to preserve the natural world; many of these still have poignancy today.
Many of his 34 books centre upon country life and country pursuits, and their light-hearted images are founded upon a thorough knowledge of their topics. (He was a keen angler, for example.) Many of the original works on show in this exhibition featured in these books including The Effluent Society (1971).
Born in Birkenhead, Cheshire on 3 May 1923, Thelwell showed a talent for drawing very early in life and found drawing and painting much easier than other subjects – ‘with drawing, the answer was always there in front of you – you only had to look’, he said.
During the Second World War he served with the second battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment, and was soon transferred to the intelligence section because of his ability to draw. Later he was posted to India with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, subsequently becoming Art Editor and sole artist for a new army magazine. He even designed new uniforms for the Indian army.
After the war, Thelwell studied at Liverpool City School of Art (1947-50) and lectured on design and illustration at Wolverhampton College of Art (1950-56). He sold his first drawing to Punch in 1950, beginning a 25-year relationship that resulted in more than 1,500 cartoons, of which 60 were used as front covers. He also worked as a cartoonist for the News Chronicle, the Sunday Dispatch and the Sunday Express and began to produce his own comic books.
For the last quarter of a century of his life he lived in the Test Valley at Timsbury, near Romsey, gradually restoring a farm house and landscaping the grounds.
In today’s world of digital photographic manipulation, the idea of altering images is the norm. This exhibition features work by members of the Bromoil Circle using a process that involves changing images yet using a technique that originated from the Oil Process, which was patented in 1855. Later in 1907, C. Wellbourne Piper worked out a formula for the Bromoil process, which is still practiced today.
The method briefly, is that the silver contained in gelatine in a bromide print is bleached away and at the same time, the gelatine is hardened according to the amount of silver it contained. It is then fixed, washed and dried, after which it is re soaked to condition the gelatine and then all surplus water is removed.
A greasy ink, such as lithographic ink, is then applied by brush and is accepted where the gelatine has hardened (the shadow areas) but is rejected where the gelatine has swollen (the highlights). Thus the original image in the bromide print is built up so that the silver image is now an ink image and far more permanent.
By judicious application of ink, the bromoil worker has fine control over the final image. The bromoil process was much favoured by pictorial workers of yesteryears and is now once more gaining in popularity.
The Bromoil Circle Postal Club was formed by the late A.C Weller in 1931, who became a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society in 1934. Later the club was renamed The Bromoil Circle of Great Britain. It was established during a period known as the ‘Pictorial Photography Period’ when the pigment printing process had become very popular amongst photographers. The club was formed with 18 members, the same number as it has today. Initially the club existed as a postal club, as many groups did in those days. Today the Circle still adopts the same method of circulating prints etc, but meetings for members and interested parties are also held in an effort to keep this fascinating technique alive and appreciated.
During the early 20th century the Bromoil Process was a very popular process with an array of materials to use, a far cry from todays situation, as very few papers are now manufactured, suitable for the process.
In fact up to the late sixties the Bromoil Process remained very popular, but then with changes within photographic practices and the demise of suitable materials, the number of practitioners fell. During the 1990s, due to serious efforts from Circle members, bromoiling began to arise from the brink of extinction and is still flourishing today amongst this small group.
Workshops and exhibitions are held throughout Great Britain and publications on the process have been produced.
The Circle has an important archive collection running into several hundred outstanding images from some of the best bromoilists from Great Britain. An archive of the images of Sam Weller is held in The Victoria and Albert Museum in London, as part of the Royal Photographic Societies Collection.
SEE DEMONSTRATIONS OF BROMOILING Aug 9th, 11th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 22nd, 24th and 25th. (One in the morning and one in the afternoon).
Images: © Josef Jindřich Šechtl
Rarely seen, yet glittering to behold, this is a display of gold, silver and metal thread embroidery to dazzle and delight, embracing nature in all its forms. All the pieces are made by members of the Goldwork Guild, at least one of whom will be demonstrating this ancient craft daily within the exhibition. The Goldwork Guild was formed in 2004 by Janice Williams to keep the art alive in the 21st century.
Modern goldwork will be displayed together with a few antique pieces reflecting the fact that this work dates back over 2000 years when only royals, nobility and those of great wealth could afford such magnificence in garments, robes, domestic furnishings and religious embellishments. Whilst the history of metal thread embroidery goes back so far in history that its origins are lost, it’s widely believed that goldwork embroidery originated in China. From there the art form spread to Asia, Persia, India, Japan, the Middle East, and the ancient civilisations of Assyria and Babylonia. Over time and up to the present day it further spread to North Africa, Spain, Italy, Western Europe, Great Britain, Scandinavia, North America, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Goldwork is also mentioned in the Bible within the book of Exodus, where it states ‘He made the ephod of gold, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen. They did beat the gold into thin plates, and cut it into wires, to work it in the blue, and in the purple and scarlet, and in the fine linen with cunning work.’ The very earliest examples employed pure gold and silver. The metals were flattened and wound around strands of animal and human hair. However, the gold and silver were both very brittle. Later the metals were wound around silk, paper, animal gut and parchment, and originally this process was done by hand which required great patience and skill, and the cost of such threads was extremely high.
Present day goldwork and metal thread embroidery is more affordable now as there are now substitutes, even though real gold and silver is of course still used (and comes from Japan.)
Throughout history, goldwork has been worked into fabric decoration and can be used not only in other embroidery, but applique with variegated shimmering patterns made luxurious using gold, silver, metallic threads and precious stones.
Ceremonial, military and religious attire is still adorned with the richness of gold embroidery. However, the design for military pieces is necessarily constrained by tradition as one would expect, but the goldwork that embellishes domestic, religious and ceremonial attire is still being worked today by many embroiderers. Other techniques and materials can be worked to create contemporary pieces reflecting the 21st century.
This particular art form is prized for the way the light plays upon it, which is influenced not just by the richness of the metal thread used, but also by the variety of metal threads available and the techniques used.
WyeSevern Textile Artists from Mid Wales are inspired by the natural world. Each member has their own dynamic way of interpreting the subject. A diverse range of styles and mixed media techniques are used resulting in a varied and inspiring display.
Drawing underpins all of Mari Harpham’s artwork; a way to discover, reflect and interpret. Each image comprises numerous spontaneous sketches exploring movement and behaviour linked to the environment. The intimate journey of each drawing from nature is then developed into a linocut for printing, into stitch, or on to paper.
After many years of making block quilts, where wrinkles and folds were regarded as imperfections, Angela Morris now introduces texture and structure into her work. She is increasingly influenced by natural phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis, and high level photo imagery where colour and pattern are inspirational.
Bronwen Jenkins turned to textiles after a career teaching biology. Her lifelong interest in natural history strongly influences her current work. This is mainly machine embroidery with an emphasis on landscape and wild plants, including lichens and mosses
Pat Gibson is primarily a lacemaker specialising in needlelace. Historical lace pieces are influental, much of their design coming from nature. Experimentation by Pat has led to incorporating the technique into mixed media work.
With a background in graphic design and watercolour painting Pamela Higgs works with hand dyed fabric, creating a layered effect with painted or stencilled papers. Free machine embroidery and hand embezzling with beads and found objects unifies the pieces.
Inspired by landscapes and the countryside around her home, Ann Breese creates her designs using hand and machine embroidery on a variety of backgrounds. Her recent work has been inspired by wild flowers growing in fields and on country lanes in spring and early summer.
This Atrium exhibition is one of a series highlighting the work of local and regional arts, crafts and photography groups. Don’t miss it!
Meet a member of the group on Sept 3rd, 7th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th, 15th, 20th, 21st and 22nd.
Art Inspired by the landscape, flora and fauna in and around a working quarry by Esther Tyson
Esther Tyson SWLA is at the forefront of contemporary wildlife art and a council member of the Society of Wildlife Artists She studied at the University of Wales before being accepted into the Royal College of Art, London where she won a travel scholarship to study large carnivores in Slovakia. That trip ignited a passion for travel, drawing, painting and observing creatures in their natural environment.
After graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2003, living and working in the wilds of South Wales, Esther secured a 3 month placement on Aride Island in the Seychelles, working alongside biologists in the field, observing the behaviour of many bird species including the Seychelles Magpie Robin, a thrush size bird threatened with extinction and in 2005 cited on the red data list. This was an important time of learning and understanding.
Surrounded by the Indian Ocean and contemplating a fear of deep water, Esther decided to apply for a scuba diving bursary through the SWLA and Dorset Wildlife Trust. Incredibly, Esther won the award and a few weeks later became an open water scuba diver. A different world entirely, drawing underwater, the COLD waters off the Dorset coast and later, the warmer waters off Song Saa Private Island, Cambodia.
Esther has been involved in projects within the UK and Worldwide, working alongside organisations such as Birdlife International (Nepal, Vultures), BTO (Senegal/Norfolk, Migration), DKM (Turkey), Esther Benjamin Trust (Nepal), Free the Bears (Phnom Penh), FFI (Cambodia), Salford Council (Salford), Royal Parks (London), SWLA, and the Natural History Museum (the Big Draw).
Esther currently lives and works in the South Peak District where she combines a studio and observational outdoor practice. ‘As the Crow Flies’ is a selection of work, created especially for this exhibition, that focuses on an area close to her home – a working quarry. Finding inspiration, life and beauty in a what many might consider an unlikely location, Esther gives us an insight into this project …
‘My high place, a place of solitude, of thought, of peace and of beauty? Really? Are quarries not a blight on the landscape…
Life brims in the boundary lines and spills over into farmland and limestone cliffs alike. So far, Jackdaws finding cracks and holes, Ravens a step in an old crevice and the falcons on a ledge high above the busy workings of this quarry. Wild flowers take over the slopes, wagtails and redstarts return and I’m still hoping to see wheatear…
My interest in the Raven has continued since tracking wolves in Slovakia back in 2003 and having found the quarries’ resident pair, I have spent time observing their behaviour in and around the nest site. It feels decadent drawing these birds and a huge privilege painting the adults as they prepare to sit… Pied wagtails arrive and forage close to where I sit, wood pigeons feed in the trees that edge the quarry face, a blast and the pigeon in turn feeds a Peregrine…
I’ve watched this pair of falcons for 8 years and now I have the luxury of including them in my work. With the ravens sitting, time is freed to find the possible nest site of the Peregrine. I had an inkling early on and at quite a distance have watched the female prepare the nest site, the pair chase another male from their territory, a buzzard forced to ground and our resident falcons mate. The female begins her sit which in turn, is perfect timing to pick up on the ravens once again. 40 days back and fore feeding young, 5 youngsters fledged and the subsequent days exploring are charming!
Now I return to wild flowers and peregrine falcons …’
This exhibition features a broad range of works both large and small, nearly all produced in the field. Many will be for sale. Do come and meet Esther September 10th – 15th when she will be artist in residence.
Since January we have been delighted to have had Bella Lucchesi join us for a day a week as Nature in Art’s Curatorial Trainee. Bella is from the USA and is undertaking an MA in Curating at UWE, Bristol. As part of her course she has been working closely with Collections Officer Emily Cooper to assemble this display. It is based on the Fibonacci Sequence and the Golden Ratio; how it appears in nature, and in works of art (whether that be by chance or design) and exploring its suggested relationship to beauty. It follows on well from David Trapnell’s talk earlier in the year ‘Is Beauty in the eye of the beholder?’. Here Bella introduces the selection of works …
The Fibonacci sequence is a series of numbers, starting from 0 where every number is the sum of the two numbers preceding it. The Golden Ratio is a number that’s equal to approximately 1.618. This number, often known as “phi” from the Greek alphabet, is in fact not equal to precisely 1.618 because it is an irrational number – meaning that its decimal digits carry on forever without repeating a pattern.
Although these are separate terms, coincidentally they closely relate to each other in many ways. If one takes any two successive Fibonacci numbers, their ratio is very close to the Golden ratio. As the numbers get higher, the ratio becomes even closer to 1.618. For example, the ratio of 3 to 5 is 1.666. But the ratio of 13 to 21 is 1.625. Getting even higher, the ratio of 144 to 233 is 1.618. These numbers are all successive numbers in the Fibonacci sequence. These numbers can also be applied to the proportions of a rectangle, called the Golden rectangle. This is thought as one of the most visually satisfying geometric forms and has been applied in numerous creative disciplines for centuries.
These concepts appear frequently in art compositions as well as in nature, whether that is in the florets of a sunflower, pine cone seeds or sea shells. This exhibition will investigate these terms in relation to nature and art and hopefully act as a starting point for visitors own explorations into art and nature. Most of the paintings, prints and 3D items have been selected from our collection but there are also a number of items on loan from artists and Gallery Pangolin, to whom we express our thanks.
Even if the Fibonacci numbers and Golden Ratio seem daunting to you, there’s much to inspire and set the mind thinking in this selection. Come and see!
This is a special exhibition of ceramic sculpture by internationally renowned sculptor Linda Heaton-Harris. This is an opportunity to see a wide selection of her work, much of it fresh from the kiln. Plus visitors can see her in the studio November 12th – 17th.
The title of the exhibition, chosen by Linda, is taken from one of her favourite quotes. It is thought to have originally been found on an old gravestone many years ago. The wildlife author and artist D.J. Watkins-Pitchford (known as BB) used it as a quote on the frontice piece of many of his books. It reads …
The wonder of the world, the beauty and
The power, the shapes of things, their colours,
Lights, and shades; these I saw.
Look ye also while life lasts
Linda recently moved to Cornwall to a smallholding/farm on the edge of Bodmin Moor overlooking Rough Tor. It is ‘a fantastic area full of ancient history including, stone huts and standing stone circles and of course wonderful wildlife’. The location is also near the North Cornish coast, Port Isaac, Rock and Padstow, yet again offering wonderful scenery, walks and wildlife. Her purpose built studio has magnificent views of the craggy granite rocks of Rough Tor and the Moor with it’s fascinating ever changing scenery. It is here that she created the works in this unique selection.
Linda originally trained as a teacher studying English Literature and History, becoming interested in ceramics while still at college. At first her work centred on abstract flower and plant forms, often vibrantly coloured, but she soon started to follow her real passion, and began sculpting animals and birds.
Linda’s work falls into two main categories: hand built, individual pieces demonstrating a more simplified approach, and extremely detailed individual bird and animal sculptures, both life size and miniatures. With both styles she endeavours to capture the essence of the animal or bird.
A variety of techniques and clays are used to produce a range of textures with various oxides, slips and stains applied to retain the fine detail. The pieces are fired at least twice. The detailed intricate bird studies involve many hours work, being built up ‘feather by feather’. Thus a single sculpture can involve several hundred feathers alone and can take several weeks to complete. Some of the pieces have flowers or foliage, these are also built up one petal, leaf or stamen at a time. Amongst the items created especially for this exhibition are a miniature piece of a pod of hippos and a Juvenile Cuckoo being fed. Others are in the kiln as we write, always a nerve-wracking time as accidents can occur. Linda’s pieces need several firings which adds to the trepidation!
Fresh from its launch in London, see the very latest exhibition of images from the British Wildlife Photography Awards celebrating the beauty and diversity of British nature and the talent, artistry and determination of the photographers who took them.
No images available yet from the 2019 exhibition. This image by Csaba Tokoly is from the 2018 competition.
Pytel is an internationally renowned metal sculptor of birds and animalier. His works include the Jubilee Fountain beneath Big Ben and ‘Take Off’, a monumental piece at Birmingham Airport depicting egrets. Born in Poland, he has an instantly recognisable style. This display includes metal and bronze sculptures and prints.