University of Buxton, Derby 24-25 July, 10:00-16:30
Well what's there not to like about this free jamboree? A chance to spend a bit of time wandering around this architectural masterpiece, admiring contemporary designs and artwork, talking to well-informed and friendly people, the chance to buy but no pressure-selling. It must be worth an hour of your time - and who knows it might well change your life or environment.
It would be invidious to highlight individual contributors to the show - lest it imply that their work is in some way superior - so let's just look at the range on offer.
About 60 artists, designers and craft-workers are represented in this show and they are listed (in the excellent PDP catalogue) under the following headings: adornment; ceramics; contemporary artisan; fine art; fine food; furniture; photography; textile design.
If I'm being honest I don't do 'adornment' - but I have loved ones who do, maybe you're in the same boat. So you might want to seek second and third opinions before splashing out on the gemstone or enamelled jewellery on offer. The range is from the simple (but tasteful) to the more ornate and dressy; from the traditional to the contemporary. (I think I'm getting the hang of this now).
Amongst the ceramics, woodwork and pottery displayed are decorative and functional pieces again reflecting a range of styles and approaches in the production of distinctive work. You will see some intriguing stained glass designs that might be of interest if you're about to update some doors and windows and want to introduce something that will be a talking point.
The 3-D stainless steel maps are pretty pointless in any utilitarian sense but are affordable, portable and fascinating.
The range of artwork on display means that whatever your tastes you'll find something to admire and look at. There are landscapes, animals (wild and domestic), stripes, felt work, collage and multi-media works. There are framed prints but buying unframed and getting your own choice of frame will probably provide a much more affordable option with plenty of prints available for £50 or less.
You might want some bespoke furniture - for church or kitchen. Solutions are on offer. You'll also find plenty of photography - some local black and white work with which you are familiar, but other work that may be new to you.
I missed the chocolatier - but I suspect others will have no such trouble.
Over the weekend there are a number of demonstrations and talks about the processes and techniques involved - get to the Dome as soon as you can to ensure that you don't miss out.
Burbage Institute, 10 July
Fifteen or so artists make up the Burbage Art Group, which meets every Wednesday under the skilled guidance of Rachel Slaney. The youngest artist is Annie Osborne - 15 - represented in the exhibition by some collages. It would be less than chivalrous to speculate on the age of the older artists - let's just say that they have had the chance to practice their skills for longer than Annie.
The Burbage Group provide a good support system for each other, offering tips on how work might be developed as well as sharing practical tips on matters of technique and materials. This openness and friendliness is readily communicated throughout this exhibition in which a year's work is compressed into just 4 hours. Most of the artists were present and were only too pleased to talk about their work and the pleasures and difficulties they had in completing it.
A wide range of techniques are displayed - watercolours, acrylic, oils, pencil, pastels and woodcarvings. Similarly a range of subjects - animate and inanimate, inspires the artists. Some subjects are familiar - cats or Solomon's Temple, for example. Less expected are studies of Estonian Churches.
I am reluctant to single out a single artist but the fact that much of the tearoom space is given over to the work of Linda Rolland may be taken to imply that the group recognises the quality of her work too. Linda's work has a sure compositional sense and one small landscape - virtually in black and white - is especially convincing.
With an eye to the future the Burbage Art Group has taken positive steps to encourage young artists and currently sponsors the Buxton Community School artist of the year prize. Rachel Davenport - this year's winner - has a sketchbook and finished work on show.
Given the distance of the Institute from the rest of the town it is to be hoped that next year's show is open for slightly longer so that more can appreciate the art of the group - and have the chance to relish the cakes on offer.
Review Part One
Like all journeys involving treasure, the Buxton Art Trail is an adventure. In this case, an adventure that has taken your reviewer into places and spaces from a shed to an architect designer home, from pubs to back bedrooms, a roof terrace, an old dairy, shops, gardens, a garage, several tents, and a car park.
Equipped with my trusty treasure map on day one of my two day odyssey I have been to twenty venues and see the work of forty four different artists. You probably could do it all in one day if you started at 10am prompt and kept up a brisk pace until 5pm, as one couple from Chapel-en-le-Frith that I ran into were endeavouring to do. I have split it into two and share here my impressions of this sensory adventure, with part two to follow tomorrow.
The atmosphere in every venue are creations in their own right - in many you are invited into private spaces to experience the outward expressions of the internal lives that are lived in them.
The creations include the work of young students, seasoned professionals, and community groups. You can see a huge variety of delights from high end photography to simple willow sculptures, ceramics, paintings, jewellery, textiles, and digital work, multimedia, hand crafted books, memory cloths, even polystyrene angels and a full size dinosaur made of consumer waste.
The wealth of talent and optimism that this fair town harbours is fantastic. Buxton's creative community has opened its doors this weekend and allowed us to peek into the hidden treasure trove of talent in our midst. If you have even half an our to spare on Sunday, get out and take a look at what these fine folk have been up to. Along the way you will be fed a variety of home made cakes and nibbles, offered tea, ginger beer, wine and elderflower cordial.
The wholly enjoyable journey around the Buxton Art Trail is one of discovery and delight. I for one am looking forward to donning my comfy shoes and getting back out on the trail again tomorrow. Hope to see you there.
Having now completed the Buxton Art Trail odyssey, I can confidently say that this town not only harbours tremendous talent but breeds it too. Several exhibitions in this feast of visual art include the work of both parent and offspring, or husband and wife, and in one case two sisters (I think, or maybe they just look alike).
Today's journey took me to 14 venues to see the work of 24 individual artists and one community project. The range of work viewed included; textiles, paintings, fine jewellery, knitting, cartoons, rural installations and stone carvings, photography, silk painting, ceramics, sculpture, collage and multi-media.
The venues are as varied as the work exhibited in them including; a sculptor in a hairdressers shop, knitting in someone's front room, paintings on the pillars in the shopping centre, three artists sharing temporary occupation of an empty shop, art on the walls of several cafes and pubs, and fashion images in amongst the garments in a dress shop. On top of all this 25 shops in Buxton provided window space to artists involved with the trail to display tasters of the creations displayed in the trail venues. The juxtapositions and unlikely combinations are part of the charm of this successful and welcome new venture.
This is the first time the Buxton Art Trail has been organised, and it is already an essential part of the Fringe. It has been something of a marathon to get round all 34 venues in one weekend, so perhaps more of the participants will stretch the weekend by a day or two next year to give dedicated viewers the opportunity to complete the full trail. It will no doubt grow with more venues and artists keen to be part of the treasure trail each year.
54 Brown Edge Road
10 July and on 11-12, 15-16, 19-20, 22-24 July
Suzanne first exhibited in Buxton last year and her energy then was impressive - but you might have supposed this was fired by enthusiasm for a new career. If anything this year's work is more impressive - because she has sustained, and expanded on, previous achievements. In this show Suzanne communicates and shares her excitement and joy in what she has seen wherever her travels have taken her.
The garage - complete with jazz soundtrack (you can choose the CD you want to accompany your viewing) - greets you with a triptych based on time spent in Berlin, Ethiopia and Jordan. Suzanne uses colour in her work with boldness and confidence.
Suzanne has spent some of the last year in New York and there are a number of studies of Manhattan bridges. Suzanne includes her notes and sketchbooks, which show in an honest way how her thinking and ideas about places and images grew as she worked.
Suzanne has also provided space - as part of the brilliantly successful inaugural Buxton Art Trail - for four other artists. The whole show is called 'Connections' and one of the links is between the five women artists' passion for climbing. All belong to same climbing club. It is not surprising then that landscapes of mountains feature in the work of all the artists and you can expect to see some examples of their work whenever you visit.
Sue Logan displays a number of watercolours - 'an unforgiving medium' as she says - but she has developed high levels of skill and suggests the threatening nature of hills and mountains especially well.
Alfreda (Fred) Reynolds is a photographer (landscapes mostly) and shows work from Britain and Australia. She has a good eye for light, shade, shape and colour and her work is very strong in compositional terms.
Christine Sheard presents a mix of charcoal drawings and vivid images from Scotland and the Alpujaras of southern Spain.
Charlotte Whitmore's work is represented by a selection of acrylic landscapes.
Canvasses, prints and cards - fairly priced - are available to buy. The exhibition is strongly recommended.
Housed in a delightfully open hidden space including a sunny roof terrace above Midas Workshops on Clough Street the Earthworks exhibition is well worth stepping off the beaten track for. In fact this varied and quite sophisticated display of exciting new work by five contemporary ceramic artists could establish this venue as a must in Buxton's annual culture fest.
The five artists who met at Derby University: Sue Blatherwick, Alan Birchall, Jan Lewis-Eccleston, Carl Gray and Mary Johnson share a media, but their styles, methods, and products could not be more different. Work includes elegantly simple domestic ware, complex finely detailed porcelain sculptures of fish and ships and eggs suggesting new life, insect inspired slip-decorated earthenware, ash-glazed stoneware urns and crocks. All the creations are for sale, but there is no pressure from the friendly artists to buy, they seem honestly delighted to share their work with the visiting public.
Part of the Buxton Art Trail 10 - 11 July, the free exhibition continues 10am to 5pm daily until 24 July. Clough Street in Higher Buxton is off Dale Road opposite the church with the curvy roof, or can be accessed via Ash Street off High Street near Scriveners Books.
What could be better than enjoying art in a great setting, talking to the artists and having a nice cup of tea? Recent full-time artists Langley and Adrienne Brown have opened up their home to us, the art-going public, and are happy to talk about their work and influences; it's a wonderful, unique opportunity to discuss the exhibited work with the artist. Last year the partnership won the Fringe Best Visual Arts Show for their 'Planet Domestos - and Beyond!' a reference to a recently recharged creative life after domestic travail. They set a high standard to replicate and as well as producing a whole new body of work to exhibit, the Browns have also put much work into preparing their home: white walls, white sofas, richly coloured silk cushions, to present their separate ventures. First impressions are good.
Adrienne's photographic series of disembodied dolls and skeins of wool greet you, followed by a larger collection of photo montages featuring a pierrot, acquired on impulse. Motivation behind the bulk of Adrienne's work deal with themes of childhood, loss and family tensions. She talks about the tangle of familial ties and the suppression of emotion. The story behind one doll picture, 'It's mine no it's mine ok it's yours' illuminates a story of sibling rivalry. I know because Adrienne discussed it with us. And that's one of the joys of having the artist on hand - you can simply ask.
A few of her most recent giclée prints, such as the delicately coloured 'True Horizons', are based on Honesty plants and are much lighter; maybe this represents a shift in outlook after sifting through the past of childhood and family.
Langley's work is quite different. His paintings are often quirky, full of colour and playful nonsense. With nods to Miro and Klee, his art is also humorous, 'You Asking For Bovril, Then?' is one title; another work in progress, depicts 'speaking in tongues' with references to Spike Milligan and Edward Lear.
At first glance Langley's idiosyncratic acrylics lean to the nonsensical and zany. But talk to Langley and look again. He describes his work as doodles, joyful, exuberant, and they are. But he talks of something much deeper too, the darker side of human nature, the evil side of men, and yes, there is something unsettling about the inky blackness in the background. Ask him about it!
As part of the Fringe and members of Buxton Art Trail (BAT) The Browns have created another winning show; join them and enjoy their art. It doesn't get much better!
Fringe Venue 20 (or BAT venue 34) is 18 White Knowle Rd.
At first glance the Robin Hood pub might seem an unlikely hothouse of artistic talent but first impressions can be wrong. Upstairs at this Marston's hostelry lies a veritable smorgasbord of visual delight; home to the London Road Artists group, a bit of a misnomer as the four artists are based in nearby White Knowle Rd - maybe it didn't have quite the same ring!
The London Road group comprises Adrienne Brown, husband Langley Brown, Norman Elliott and Sue Mortin; all are well known to the cognoscenti on the Buxton art scene.
Sue Mortin's work will be familiar to habitués of the much lamented Beltane café, her enigmatic painted faces adorning the walls. Titles such as The Mystery of Being, When The Shadow of The Moon Fell Upon The Earth and Sirius Rising, which gives this section of the exhibition its name, hint at otherworldly connections.
Talking of other worldly connections, Langley Brown's collection of quirky, playfully titled acrylic paintings; Who Let the Dogs Out? and Another Fine Piccolo also seem to have extra-terrestrial tendencies, bold, bright and colourful.
When it comes to bold and colourful though, Norman Elliott leads the way with his beautiful, geometric patterns; Squaring The Circle says it all really, with his mathematical precision and use of solid colour. He lends this highly rational style even to Lily and Vase - and it works wonderfully! His work might divide popular opinion but this reviewer finds much of his work highly covetable.
Set against this dominance of dense colour and two-dimensional shapes, Adrienne Brown's understated collection of nude sketches could well be overshadowed, however the juxtaposition of rigid lines and soft female form works well; these elegantly observed drawings are recent studies from Adrienne and are intimate yet non-intrusive.
(It's interesting that the female artists exhibit works featuring the human form, specifically women and the men's work is bold, densely colourful - often with hard edges - and seemingly devoid of human emotion. Enough said!)
The Brown partnership won last year's Fringe Best Visual Arts Show for their Planet Domestos - and Beyond! They are currently exhibiting at Venue 20 (aka 18 White Knowle Rd).
Works are available for purchase at reasonable prices. There are several Langley Brown giclée prints from original paintings that are very affordable.
This is a glimpse into the work of four experienced local artists. Don't be put off by the unprepossessing exhibition space - it's definitely worth a visit.
An exhibition showing works of art from the High Peak Artists Association in wide range of medium from oils, and the increasingly popular textiles, to pottery and bracelets.
Some of the work is surprisingly subtle and clever in construction. Of particular note is an interesting picture of an urn made to look old with a textile (look close) and the use of fabrics in a piece depicting a blue bell wood by Claire de Ruiter works very well.
Beside each work of art is a verse or extract from a book that helps, on occasion, to bring the art to life.
Take a look at Racing Legend by Graham Higginbottom. The verse beside the picture of the racing horses sparks the imagination and an impression of movement.
If starting at the stairs end of the café have a look at 'Tyger Tyger'. Get close to admire the detail of the small picture of a tiger with the verse 'burning bright, In the forests of the night, What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?' and then take a look behind to you on the opposite wall.
The exhibition was as art should be, interesting, imaginative and a bit of fun.
Mon-Sat 9.30am-5.30pm, Sun 10.30am-5pm
The results of this annual photographic competition organised by Brierlow Bar are displayed in a very mini exhibition at the bookshop five minutes drive from Buxton.
It is useful actually to have them put up together as last year they were placed up high around the shop and were a bit too easy to miss. There were not too many entries this year unfortunately - just 13 on display - but the pictures are worth a look all the same. Last winter's dramatically icy weather has inspired both adult winners, Geoff Hood and Steve Conquest, who have produced arresting pictures on the theme of Architecture in the Peak and Signs, Stoops and Stiles respectively. Some more informative labelling would have been useful. I think Geoff Hood's photo was of Haddon Hall, looking very grand in the snow, but I could be wrong.
In the under 15s section, Jimmy Hyland picked up first prize for his back view of a man enjoying his solitude in a wood but my eye was caught particularly by the second prize winner Bryony Barker who has produced a clever montage of pictures reflecting her enjoyment of local history. Third prize winner Philip Tomlinson meanwhile came up with a dramatic, black and white climbing picture.
Usefully the pictures are arranged in the coffee area, which is also awash with Fringe programmes. During a busy festival you could do far worse than to take a breather here, enjoy some artistic photos and best of all peruse this store's fabulous array of bargain-priced books.
Apertures Picture Framing, throughout the Fringe, closed Mondays and Sun 25.
In 2009, the newly opened Apertures caused a stir with its first Fringe exhibition showing imaginative new artworks from successful Buxton-based illustrator, Kelly Dyson. This year the High Street shop is exhibiting again, with Dyson joined by local artists Martin Olsson and Thomas Hope, using his artist's moniker of Mister Hope.
Where last year the mood was dreamlike and faintly disturbing, this time it is more humorous with Martin Olsson almost stealing the show with his large colourful, cartoon-like canvasses, one displaying a kind of vertical cross-section of humanity ranging from devils at the bottom to an angelic multitude at the top. In his refreshing statement, Olsson says he 'resists subtlety in favour of clarity and humour'. He favours strong outlines, filled in with colour and enjoys subverting symmetry in pictures such as 'Fish', in which almost identical green fish in rows become progressively more obese. Olsson's interesting work has been picked up by the Buxton Festival and here you can see the original artwork for the Festival programme's illustration for All the Kings' Men.
Mister Hope describes himself as a 'large, hairy illustrator' who was 'once eaten by a sea creature and spat back out'. Perhaps that is why there is a Monsters Inc. feel to his friendly illustrations. This is art that does what it says on the tin. Hope says his well-executed paintings are 'simple, cute and don't always make sense'. I would go along with that. They certainly made me smile and it is fascinating how pictures combining night-time, small children and monsters can end up so unthreatening.
As for Dyson, some of Dyson's magical, faintly feral compositions are back up but they are joined by more neutral recent illustrations for the Guardian Weekend and Guitarist magazine. The big move for Dyson has been away from digitally created work to hands on illustration and linocuts. What is exhibited here is instantly commercial - for example the picture of different hats - but I can't help feeling there is more to be unleashed from his imagination. The print featuring upside down boy, dog and squirrel with cans on their heads is I'm sure only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is going on in Dyson's mind.
Part of the Buxton Art Trail, this intimate show is well worth your time. One last thing - don't overlook the framing. Hugo Edwardes's handmade frames for Dyson's work are made from recycled materials and probably artworks in their own right.
Louise Jannetta has entitled her exhibition Un-Ltd to describe the freedom she feels to work in many different mediums - you will find water colours, oils, pastels, printing, felt work and mixed media. This liberty allows ideas developed in one form to inspire other work and set up fascinating thematic and stylistic links between pictures. The collage of individually painted scales in The Mermaid's Tale inspires the mixed media work Fish in a Dish, and the fish theme reappears in some delightful collography prints and in newer work such as the intriguing Faith. This cross-pollination of themes and ideas gives a flavour of the joy that Louise has in exploring different mediums.
Some of the most striking images are of trees stretching to the sky, bare branches filling the canvas. Here, Louise's more abstract felt works have inspired the use of wool to provide texture in one of her most recent tree paintings where its combination with oils has created an intense and fascinating work. Continuing the interest in nature's rhythms, there are several paintings exploring the patterns found in nature, often hiding things that suddenly seem obvious once spotted - look for the pheasant, the ducks and the Elusive Trout - apparently the kids always spot them first!
Louise is also a talented illustrator and is working on ideas for children's books, so don't leave without seeing the enchanting rainbow and mermaid illustrations in her portfolios. And you can't miss the huge patchwork representation of the sea inspired by her work as an upholsterer.
The exhibition is in a working studio so you will get the opportunity to see sketches and works in progress, and best of all the opportunity to discuss the work and art in general with Louise, whom you will find a charming and welcoming host.
The exhibition continues every day throughout the Fringe and is also part of the Buxton Art Trail on the weekend of 10th/11th July, you can find it at the back of the Chair Shop on Dale Road (Fringe Venue 14, BAT venue 29).
7th July 2010
Buxton Museum and Art Gallery
Mon closed, Tues-Fri 9.30am to 5.30pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm, Sun 10.30am-5pm.
Chances are you will want to head for the Buxton Museum and Art Gallery for the popular Derbyshire Open exhibition but do not overlook the chance to enjoy an adventure Down Under while you are there.
British artists John and Carole Dronsfield spent two years in New Zealand and have come back energised by the experience. Now they are exhibiting their vibrant artworks in watercolour, pen on canvas, pastel and other media in the back room of the museum - the show is free but 10 per cent of the artists' proceeds from sales will be donated to the Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen.
Striking from the start is the difference in their styles. John has an irrepressible sense of humour and his pen works especially are hugely elaborate - I particularly appreciated The Incredible Kiwi with its tail surreally exploding into a riot of New Zealand detail, from boats to buildings, guitars to bicycles. Carole was originally a glass engraver and has a keen sense of light creating dreamy pastel landscapes, many reflecting the heat of the area. Thermal New Zealand with its red beach is immediately arresting.
There is plenty to arouse the curiosity, whether it is John's animal-shaped driftwood sculptures or simply the display case telling us more about New Zealand and their corner of it, Gisborne, which was the first landing place of Captain Cook on October 9, 1769. Poverty Bay there was named that by Cook after he asked Maori tribesmen for supplies for his men and was given short shrift.
Some of Carole's pastels are so spare as to seem slightly under-worked to my eye but as I write this, it is her pictures that seem to be staying with me, particularly the psychedelic pastel, Paua Power. Then again, John's watercolour The Egret and the Mangrove with its striking composition and twisting roots is also lodged in my consciousness. Intriguingly, the artists are not just different from each other but have experimented with a number of styles and media so that neither can quite be pigeonholed. Above all, in this exhibition at least, the role of New Zealand itself as an exceptional stimulus can never be underestimated.
Mon closed, Tues-Fri 9.30am to 5.30pm, Sat 9.30am-5pm, Sun 10.30am-5pm.
The Derbyshire Open Art Exhibition, now 28 years old, is an annual highlight of the Fringe boasting works from some of the county's finest artists.
This year's show at the Buxton Museum is slightly smaller than 2009's but still with plenty to enjoy and admire. The Derbyshire Open competition invites professionals and amateurs, including children, to capture aspects of life and landscape in Derbyshire and there have been times in the past when the Derbyshire theme has become a little lost. Not so here with the exhibition as a whole conveying every shade and nuance of the county from the harshly dramatic environment of Hillocks Mine - brilliantly realised in 3-D mixed media by P Martin - to the comforting landscape of Cromford - celebrated in T Douglas's gouache in which a small red van is glimpsed Postman Pat-style between houses across the water.
Buxton figures strongly with Zoe Badger winning the Friends Trophy for her linocut Buxton Montage and Tony Beresford picking up the Derbyshire County Council Oil Painting Prize for his All the Fun on the Fair with its vibrant market square scene in which the fun fair's colourful lights are reflected by a wet pavement under moody evening skies. Unusually for such a bold picture, it actually looks better close up with the viewer instantly drawn in.
More important than specific places is Derbyshire atmosphere. E Harris's warmly water-coloured Ancient Oak, Calke Abbey is tellingly more moss than bark, while R Morledge's cartoon-like, aerial depiction of a Well Dressing in watercolour and ink celebrates all the people who make a local tradition like this work.
Although there are fewer sculptures than in the past, R Watson's roundly proportioned Ayup me Duck in Derbyshire limestone is irresistible and indeed sold, while J Perks's Bakewell - Best in Show featuring a mounted dog's head in mixed media is head-turningly entertaining. The range of media used at the Derbyshire Open is always impressive and helps create a real sense of variety. One can be admiring S Vanderplank's tastefully decorative screenprint, Woodland Glade, one minute and the next going eyeball to eyeball with Molly and Amelia, W Darker's wonderfully tactile acrylic Highland Cattle, which judging from the visitors' book are clearly worthy of some kind of people's award.
Disagreeing with the prize judges is all part of the fun but I can see why Maia Miller-Lewis's striking yet detailed Mary Queen of Scots at The Old Hall picked up the Derbyshire County Council Young Artist Prize. She had stiff competition though from young artists such as India Goddard whose acrylic painting, Solomon's Sunset, featured beautiful complementary colours and striking shadows on the snow.
Why not find your own favourite artist and work at the show? Don't just write it in the museum visitors' book - come and see us at the Fringe Information Desk where we have a book for you to record all your Fringe recommendations for 2010.