We popped along to Avocet Gallery and Tea Rooms the other day to have a look at their current exhibition – Printmakers.
I have always been drawn to printmaking ever since my dad showed me a book of Aubrey Beardsley’s work when I was quite small, I know maybe something a little odd to show a small child? I never really understood what I was looking at back then, I just loved all the swirls and trails. I think it could be responsible for my love of Art Nouveau.
Much as I like printmaking it’s not something that I have ever really tried. I like to go and look at prints and am especially drawn by work with lots of texture, I love texture.
The textures in this print ‘Shooting Star over the Long Man’ by Ian O’Halloran called out to me. Even though I know it is depicting the countryside around the Long Man of Wilmington (well I hope it’s that Long Man!), to me it feels like I am looking at a roiling sea shown in that beautiful red light you sometimes get at sunset. All the patterns and textures allow your eye to flow around the image, it took me quite a while to find the shooting stars as I was a little bewitched by following the flowing and turning of the earth.
Another by Ian O’Halloran that drew me towards it is ‘Folkington Hill’. The fantastic texture of the ploughed field pulled me right into the print deep enough to follow right to the back and make me wonder what is around the corner behind that hill. You could spend quite a while just sitting and wondering that, working out the wondrous things that are hidden just out of sight.
Hester Cox’s ‘Autumn Field’ is also depicting a ploughed field, see the textures are just sucking me in. The ploughed furrows lead your eye straight to the horizon at the back of the print, again making me wonder what is there just over the horizon, tucked out of sight. It looks like a pretty desolate landscape and to my eyes a very flat one, I wonder if he spends any time on Romney Marsh at all. The round circles in the ‘sky’ of the print are actually the lights in the gallery reflected in the glass, they are not a part of the print, though it does make it look like it is an alien world with several suns in orbit. I am completely fascinated by ploughed fields, there are so many round here, I think maybe one day I should try carving one, but that is a topic for another time.
This is, I think, the first time I have seen work by Flora McLaughlin and I seriously have to wonder if she is a field archer. A couple of the prints shown here are so like archery shots it is uncanny, made me stop and look for a very long time, especially ‘Deer Drop’. This print makes me feel like I am standing in the heart of the forest in amongst where the trees are the most ancient and densely packed. Sneaking a look around a tree and seeing the deer in the clearing ahead, the dew drop caught on the branch right in front of me, threatening to drip onto my nose.
‘Hastings Old Town’ by John Russell is not strictly a print, being described on the label as a ‘paint-ink collage’. It watched us while we ate and I spent quite a long time looking back, I’m not sure what it is I like about it, maybe it’s the colours, maybe it’s the slight randomness of the buildings. It’s something I know that I could live with and spend a lifetime looking at. Sadly at the moment I can’t justify the purchase so it will have to stay where it is.
Looking back at the photographs I have taken of the work in the exhibition I have realised that I have done the one thing I hate about images in art books, I have left out the frames!!! Considering I am a frame maker I think it’s terrible of me, I must try to remember next time to include the frames.
The exhibition is on until the middle of October and the gallery is open Wednesday till Sunday from 10.30am – 5pm. Go along and have a look, Avocet is a lovely gallery and the owners are so welcoming.
And finally, as they say, as mentioned before yes we did eat while we were there. I mean who can resist the lure of homemade cake? A stronger person than me obviously. I succumbed to the lure of my favourite fruit cake and Mum can highly recommend the cheese platter, yum.
Jutta M Stiller is a wood carver and sculptor specialising in Netsuke and Couture frames click here to subscribe to her newsletter ‘Tales From the Woodcarving Bench’ .