Visual Arts Reviews

BUXTON PHOTO CHALLENGE 2020 - Chapel Camera Club

A fun day with at least 15 participants completing the challenge of submitting six photos in six hours on the six themes posted up in the morning and several more participants dabbling round the fringe. The first challenge was finding the six themes and the final challenge was transferring them from the camera to post them onto Facebook. Maybe there were more participants enjoying the activity who do not use Facebook. Congratulations must go to Chapel Camera Club for choosing themes whose interpretation lead to a wide variety of images with many strikingly original contributions.

The standard was high with particularly excellent entries to check out including Louise Moon's look inside a machine and Ann Leblanc's comical look inside a whiskery framed mouth. Sarah Davis's four pairs of increasing sized shoes were an inspirational concept to illustrate Time and I liked the subtlety of the Karl Wood's composition showing a person looking at the opening hours at the jeweller's. Parallel was an excellent theme as it drew out uniquely different viewpoints. Linda Estruch and Anne Chadwick should be congratulated for their perfect alignments. Many foods were proffered for Tasty but Pete Gasking controversially hogged this feast. Playful gave rise to many quirky and colourful items. Karl Wood's dog was hopeful that it would get a walk while Ann Chadwick noticed that The Herb Garden was hoping they may get a customer or two.

All in all, fun to participate and fun to see others' contributions. Long may it continue and hopefully return next year.

Carolyn Page


In these strange times it is important to carry on life as near to normality as possible and make the most of the internet to feel part of the bigger community, support the arts and find out about your local artists. A great way to do that is to visit the Green Man Gallery Summer Collection online exhibition and get to know your local artists and their work.

This exhibition by established local artists is refreshingly lively and colourful. The collection is affordable and accessible , full of colour, freshness, dynamism and sensitivity with a variety of mediums and something for everyone. The following is a brief description of my reaction to this wonderful collection:

Geoff Chilton's mixed media landscape paintings inspired by landscape have a dynamic energy.

Mara Edwards's acrylics are decorative and tapestry-like, with a sumptuous use of colour and texture.

Susan Eversfield's delicate ceramics have a whimsy and a lovable naivety.

Dawn Feathersone's decorative prints and paintings evoke the local landscape through texture and colour.

Fiona Jubb's portraits provide an excellent reaction to the paranoia of Covid times with her dark portraits.

Jenny Mckenzie's watercolour landscapes glow with an intensity of colour.

Amanda O'Neill's prints, drawings and ceramics have a strong sense of contemporary design.

Suzanne Pearson creates evocative and dreamlike reactions to her environment in mixed media.

Jo Spencer demonstrates an original and refreshing use of mosaic to depict the landscape.

Caroline Small's beautiful photographs evoke nature in the British countryside with simplicity and elegance.

Elizabeth Cochrane

DRINK & DRAW; IN THE JUNGLE - Drink & Draw with Andrea Joseph

Creativity, or mine at any rate, has ebbed and flowed during lockdown. Without my familiar art classes I’ve not always been able to motivate myself to get drawing again. So I am grateful to Andrea Joseph for encouraging me to pick up a pencil again and also enjoy a little bit of fellowship with other artists over a drink, a couple of them even joining us from the United States.

Pinky DeVille proved a luscious and inspiring model for us in her leopard-skin dress against a part jungle, part boudoir background. There was no time to feel inhibited as we were offered a series of lightning two-minute then, five, ten and finally 12-minute poses to capture on paper. I would have welcomed a longer pose at the end but we were offered the chance to take a photo of the screen so there is really no excuse not to go off and create something a bit more colourful and elaborate than the sketches I managed.

Having been to some of Andrea’s Dr Sketchy sessions in the past, I couldn’t help but feel a little wistful for the real thing - live in a social setting with several models, a few prizes and music that didn’t have to struggle with internet reception. But given our circumstances this was a welcome addition to the Fringe so thanks to Pinky and Andrea for their generosity in putting it on. If I feel brave I may share some of my sketches on Instagram

Stephanie Billen

BUXTON GARDEN TRAIL 2020, THE VIRTUAL TOUR - Buxton Garden Trail Community Group

Usually the Buxton Garden Trail is held in early June. Obviously that wasn't possible this year, so its great that the organisers were able to create this short but beautiful virtual tour.

We visit 30 gardens from around all parts of Buxton ranging from formal traditional style gardens to cottage gardens via minimalist Japanese style gardens to a specialist Acre garden (or Maple trees to us non gardeners). We even get a look at the BBC's shed of the year - disguised as a hobbit's house!

The photography is lovely and the plants simply stunning. At a time when many of us have found comfort in nature this is an uplifting treat.

The only thing that is missing is the ability to chat with the gardeners themselves who in normal times are all happy to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with visitors - still there is always next year!

Carole Garner


Visually arresting window display from community artists under the title 'Break Your Stride.' Not any obvious theme to link the artworks as they range greatly in terms of content and medium. But they are mostly for sale, at modest cost, please enquire within!

Featuring pencil sketch portraits by Maria Hyde and Mo Stewart as well as animal paintings in acrylic, most strikingly, the glorious Kingfisher by David Woodrow.

There are also traditionally presented landscape and seascape views and two crayon drawings of vibrant funky animals by Georgina Wright.

These represent the artistic output from Buxton's Adult Community Education art classes and perhaps form the very first public outing for some: it takes courage and talent in equal measure to unleash art into such a public display. Bravo!

Some work can't be displayed, but can be viewed elsewhere online at

David Carlisle


Imagine a town defined by a particular cultural tradition or special event, maybe even known internationally for that event. Imagine then the impact of having that event cruelly denied.

Buxton's well dressing tradition dates back to 1840 and the origins probably go back even further. No need to imagine how much it hurt the town to cancel this year due to social gathering implications and Covid-19.

Community arts group Two Left Hands wanted to rescue Carnival Week, so creative organiser, Gillian Wright, dreamed up the idea of 'an alternative well dressing trail through the town.'

Based upon fabric creations by local community groups and volunteers, three huge, banner-style hangings were stitched together. Two colourful mosaics were hung at Buxton Station (beside the iconic fanlight window) and one at The Green Man Gallery.

They are colourful and cheery with inspirational and uplifting messages; the theme, 'Heart of the Community' has been addressed in so many innovative and interesting ways.

What a great idea! Superbly delivered, the project keeps alive a special tradition, proving that volunteers like Gill, and so many others who love this town, are the true beating heart of the community.

David Carlisle

SCULPTURE TRAIL - Curated by Lindsey Piper

What a wonderful trail. There is so much variety, skill and creativity here so beautifully displayed. It is must see for all Fringe goers. I am so impressed that I shall be trying to make visits to see these sculptures in all their glory when we are allowed to do so.

The video of Joanne Risley's work is effective in showing the three dimensional nature of her works, and the kinetic movement of some of her sculptures using the power of wind or water. It is also enlightening as it not only shows pictures of the sculptures themselves but also gives brief glimpses into how she creates them. Her website gives more pictures of her public and recent topical sculptures, capturing for posterity the times in which we live.

Andrew Vickers stone sculptures are amazing, also the twinkling colours of the multi-faceted figure as seen in 'The Starman of Storrs Wood' (video on Facebook). 'Naked' (also a video on Facebook) gives an insight into Andrew himself, whereas watching his video 'Stoneface Creative from the Darkness' also gives an insight to his embrace of technology. Visiting his website you can watch more videos to gain a feeling of his passion that drives him in creating his inspired sculptures. You can even take virtual walks in his 10-acre wood and see his canvases as well as his sculptures. It is a website where you could spend all day investigating its facets, but don't let that distract from appreciating the skill and design of his creative pieces of art. That leaves me to wonder where all those walls are that he built and a challenge like tracking down postboxes on Dartmoor.

Tony Evans's copper and bronze sculptures catch the very essence of movement which brings them to life. He even manages to colour his pieces to give yet another dimension and depth and form. You need to visit his website to see more pictures in gallery view to appreciate the life he brings to the creatures he sculpts.

Do not be deceived by the idea that James Heppenstall just puts together scrap metal to make objects. He is highly skilled in working with steel and his gallery is well worth viewing. His Phoenix made of garden tools particularly caught my eye as well as his birds and Full Lion.

Martin Norman sculpts in clay and Plasticine before moulding and casting in resins. On first looking at the trail I thought what an unusual and lovely idea to have a floral gravestone. I only realised my error later when watching his series of videos that it was a water feature. I particularly appreciated his choice of objects that his birds stood on; from The Early Bird Catches a Bookworm to those on the lookout on a telescope on a tripod.

Mick Kirkby-Geddes is another sculptor in metal with so much creativity. His figurines are so full of quirky humour that I had to smile and looking at them gave me great pleasure.

And of course, if you happen to be taking exercise in Buxton, remember to walk past Andrea Lewis's Floella Flap-a-lot in Spring Gardens.

Carolyn Page

ABOUT TIME - Jennifer Hart and Louise Jannetta

I have to confess that this was my first visit to Louise’s studio and gallery, but I wish I had come sooner. I walked up the stairs, not really knowing what to expect from this exhibition but was not disappointed by the high quality and well thought through work by both artists and also had the opportunity to discuss the artworks at length with Louise.

Louise and Jennifer both completed their BA in Fine art at MMU’s Manchester School of Art this year. In a time when many students have had to put their work online, it was so refreshing to be able to see their final year projects in person. Both artists' work is intimate and creates a highly embodied moment of viewing.

As the title suggests, time is a central theme to the exhibition. Jennifer’s photographic prints explore the desire to feel a sense of completeness and the blurring of reality, imagination and memory that can often be felt when exploring archival material. Her work focuses on repeated gestures, ones that crop up again and again over time. By cropping these elements and printing from them in the dark room, she subverts the images and gives them a contemporary importance. With the image Déjà Vu I was struck by the way the two repeated images connect, feeding back from one to the other creating the looping and repetition that Jennifer speaks about in her artist statement.

Louise has chosen to show a collection of paintings, ranging from portraiture to abstract representations of experience and surreal narratives. In the centre of the room hangs a large-scale oil painting, The Foot Tree. This visually striking painting is based on the shoe tree just off the A515 as you drive out of Buxton towards Ashbourne, however the shoes are replaced by feet and the location is blurred and open for interpretation. Louise spoke to me about how this painting references the physicality of being in nature and the way that humans often feel the need to leave a mark on landscape instead of leaving it be, something that I feel it effectively communicates while also allowing me as the viewer to go further into my own thoughts and associations. Opposite this hangs Untitled Abstract 1 & 2. These delicately painted abstract shapes capture the sensual experience of physical moments. The techniques used in these paintings also clearly inform her other work and while in the space I felt these two works had a really strong connection to another of her paintings, Telamon. This connection was not just about shape and colour but her approach to the painting. The subject matter across all of her works was highly refined and cohesive.

I’d really recommend taking the time to visit Louise and Jennifer’s exhibition. You can see the works I have spoken about here and more at Louise’s Art Studio and Gallery at the rear of 24 Dale Road from 10am to 4:30pm on 4th, 5th, 10th-12th, 17th-19th July. Due to social distancing numbers in the gallery are limited to 4 people and if you happen to need to queue, there is a sheltered area outside and Louise is more than happy to provide a drink while you wait.

For both of these artists this work signifies an end of one chapter, but definitely not the end of a story and I can’t wait to see what they choose to do next and how they take these thought-provoking works further!

Georgina Watson


As well as being enjoyed on display in his home town of Buxton, Geoff's photos have secured admiration when featured in the Sunday Times, Daily Telegraph, and Guardian newspapers as well as travel and outdoor specialist publications: Rough Guides, Trail Magazine, Country Walking and National Geographic.

Geoff's selection for the Fringe on display at Jo Royle's focuses in particular upon the patterns and forms seen in natural surroundings, both up close and from afar. These are images as he recorded them, without any clever after-snapping manipulation: you're seeing the views as they appeared to Geoff in his Fuji camera.

The majority of the display is downstairs at Jo's, but some items are shown in the windows, so that they can be appreciated by folk who are still a bit iffy about entering shops. All images on display can also be seen online at

David Carlisle


A family fun event with absolutely no social distancing implications: you will be out in the fresh air, as near or far from others (in or out of your "bubble") as you wish to be and enjoying the creative talents of folk just like you.

The Flowerpot Trail will prompt you to stand at the edge of someone else's garden, peer over their fence and gasp with delight when your eyes fall upon the fantastic and innovative things that have been done with nothing more than old flowerpots and knotted string.

There are animals aplenty - including cows, a giraffe, rabbit, elephant and pig - and numerous rainbow-laden tributes to those heroic key workers of the covid-19 epidemic. There are large displays, smaller ones and downright tiny-cute ones, all showing imaginative flair and plenty of colour.

There are two ways to enjoy the Trail, by downloading the map ( and walking it or by visiting an online gallery (

A note has to be raised about a few displays that are promoted by the map, but have been removed for one reason or another. The ones that remain more than make up for it!

David Carlisle

THE SKETCHBOOK TRAIL - charlieanneart

Lockdown may have kept us indoors or isolated, but it has led to a blossoming of creativity as artists find solace, release or simply a means of expression in their work. As it became clear earlier in the year that many visual arts events wouldn't be able to go ahead, Charlieanneart wanted to make sure local artists still had a platform to share their work.

To that end Charlieannart has curated The Sketchbook Trail, a collection of sketchbooks created by over 20 local artists throughout 2020, which can be found on Instagram (@thesketchbooktrail).

It is striking in the insight it gives into the creative process. I enjoyed how Liz Welby (@lizwelby) made use of her video of handmade sketchbooks made from any old scrap of paper to show how sketches developed, and how Alison Wake (@cognissart) uses sketches to form the scaffold for stitching and we see the process from photo to finished textile pieces. Mandy Collins (@mandypurple13) uses her sketchbook for colour blends and experiments, and Pam Smart (@pam_smart_studio) shows how sketches of the Opera House led to the final painting.

Other sketchbooks document life under lockdown. The miniature sketchbook by Holly Exley (@hollyexley_illustration) documenting the pavement plants she sees on her walks is a thing of beauty, and also focussing on nature at this time, David Steeden (@davidsteedenart) and @printbyval focus on capturing moments in their gardens.

In many cases, the sketchbooks capture the sheer variety of creativity going on. Jenny Smith’s (@jennygoldbergsmithart) sketchbook is crammed with images of flowers, fruit, seeds, weeds, architectural features, glasses, crisp packets, and, it seems, anything that comes to hand; it’s a wonderful riot of images. Curator @charlieannart has two sketchbooks completed for university featuring everything from cats in glasses to Oscar Wilde, via fonts, portraits and notes in a range of styles. Fiona Jubb (@fionajubbartefacts) has different sketchbooks featuring portraits veering into caricature, abstract images, and within the botanicals, citruses that made me thirsty.

There’s so much more to see; we’re lucky to have such an insight into the developing ideas of so many talented artists.

Stephen Walker


An unusual concept: an invitation to join a total stranger in something very intimate.

This is performance artist Yulia Hampton's request though and the intimacy is sleep.

Three six-minute long videos show how Yulia welcomed Carnival-goers at Buxton's 2019 well dressing celebrations, explained about the invitation and got down to it - well, not exactly down to it as Yulia climbed atop a mobile unit and surrounded herself with live display cameras. Her invitees snuggled below with snoozing comfort provided inexplicably by stuffed toy mice.

Some folk completely failed to understand, others mocked and a rare few bedded down alongside the artist.

What does it take to share such an experience? Ultimate trust? An appreciation of the vulnerability of the sleeper? A desire to co-exist alongside rough sleepers and homeless people? An ability to relax under difficult circumstances?

Motivations are plentiful, but one thing is clear, this is an intimately shared experience.

But is it art? You decide.

David Carlisle


Pam has an accurate eye for detail, whether that lies in architectural conformity, intricate patterns or the flowing lines of natural form. She also has an artist's eye, allowing flexibility in the interpretation of what she sees: the ability to thoroughly mix things up and introduce differing perspectives.

Her display at Green Pavilion shows Buxton off at its happiest and invites the viewer to regard colour as an arbitrary feature - mosaics and kaleidoscopic patterns shuffle gaily around some of Buxton's better known buildings.

Purples, blues and garish reds take the place of grey stone and dull bricks to bring the town back to life during these times of lockdown.

Once again, Carnival Day lives! Thank you Pam!

David Carlisle


A visual journey through some exotic locations like Hong Kong and more familiar home territories of Cornwall, Manchester and, of course, Buxton.

Seen through the eyes of artist Pam, this is not a travelogue, but rather a record of architectural imagery mixed in with intricate patterns and superbly observed statuary.

This '100 sketches in 100 days' project is the visual equivalent of a multi-marathon event, yet each page throbs with content in this six-minute audio-visual presentation accompanied by evocative guitar music.

Travel to some lovely exciting destinations without leaving the comfort of your home. Not to be outdone, Pam ensures that dear old Buxton and its remarkable architecture compares very well alongside - all the better in these days of lockdown!

David Carlisle

2020 LOCKDOWN GALLERY - The Buxton Spa Art Prize

The Buxton Spa Art Prize Online Gallery was launched in April 2020 to provide artists with a platform from which to exhibit and sell work produced during the lockdown period.

Experienced professionals and amateur beginners have not let us down as their contributions are outstanding.

Artwork is displayed in five gallery rooms and is arranged in order of submission starting with the very first entries in Room One.

Enjoy a wide variety of mediums from oils, watercolour, gouache, acrylics, through to pencil, charcoal, ink, pen, screen print and fantastic use of iPad using Procreate. Spot familiar local landscapes to those further afield, still life, and portraiture, all brought to life with artist comments relating to their chosen subject. Look out for some very poignant images and text relating lockdown experiences.

My personal favourites are ‘Sunny Morning’ by Tim Rose, ‘Into the Land’ by Kelly Herrick, ‘Spring’ by Tony Beresford, ‘Heralds of Peace’ by Sheila Tweed, and collections by Ronald Haber, Paul Searson, Philip Westcott and Carole Baker.

Don’t miss work submitted by young artists, who have their very own gallery. Martha Blue (12) articulates exactly how we are all feeling during this extremely trying time and her collection depicts scenes many of us are familiar with.

Whilst it is difficult to fully appreciate this fantastic collection through a computer screen it really does make you look forward to Buxton Festival Fringe 2021, when we can see the work from these and other artists in all its glory.

If you can’t wait that long and want to treat yourself, the majority of work is available to purchase (artist contact details are provided at

Karen Wain-Pimlott

2020 ART EXHIBITION: ONLINE - Burbage Art Group

The annual exhibition from Burbage Art Group is a highlight for me - and not just because there are tea and biscuits - but it is always rewarding to see the quality and quantity of grass roots art in the area. Usually at Burbage Institute, this year over a dozen artists are online (click on the gallery link on the Fringe description) and the exhibition is also augmented by links to two videos.

One of the benefits of a group must be the opportunity to try out different styles, and I liked the range of acrylics that Jane Barson has exhibited; there are two excellent Corsican landscapes with sun-bleached colours contrasting with a vivid bunch of flowers and an alarming funky chicken!

Stephanie Osborne shows an excellent range from a Tamara de Lempicka-inspired portrait to a lush Shutlingsloe landscape and a Goshawk in flight, and a highlight as ever is a wonderful miniature of a jug with apples by Laura Critchlow, which online has the advantage of being probably close to normal size!

It isn’t all painting though, and Frances Boaler’s sculptures are intriguing, particularly the delightful 18th Century Ghost Fairy and the couple sitting reading on a bench. Rachel Slaney exhibits textiles as well as paintings.

The videos are a great addition, there is Annie Osborne’s charming timelapse video of her completing a sketch, and an informative short demo from Stephanie on how to achieve smooth gradations of colour when working with oil paints.

It’s always a treat to catch up with what the Burbage Art Group are doing, even without the tea and biscuits!

Stephen Walker