Coming up

Coming Up:
Wed 18th September: Social evening at the Blue Boar. 8pm
Sun 22nd September: Outdoor Sketching around Clee Hill new quarries.
Thu 3rd October: Ellie Tarratt: Historical paint techniques – a demonstration of how ancient art materials and tools were used.


Sunday, 15 September 2019

Spotlight: the Coastal watercolous of William Toplis

'Port Gouray, Sark' - William Toplis. Watercolour
William Arthur Toplis (1857~1942) is known as the artist of Sark.  Sark is a small island in the Channel Islands, now inhabited by about 400 people. William's paintings bring out the beauty and colourful movements of the little island. The features and landscapes he depicted are still today, there to enjoy.
'The Venus Bath' (This painting took Toplis a decade to complete. The area is now more usually known as "The Venus Pool", and is still as depicted here.)
William was born in Sheffield. He taught himself to paint and sold his first painting at the age of 10. In Sheffield he attended Bowlings School and the People's College, then studied at the Sheffield School of Art, graduating at the age of 15. He married in 1878, and he an Eleanor had, over the years, 8 children. They stayed in Scotland and at Betws-y-coed, where William produced many landscapes. His painting "Sermon in Stones" was accepted by the Royal Academy in 1880, and the Royal Academy remained a reliable promoter of his work.
In 1881 the Toplis family moved to Jersey in the Channel Islands.  Two years later, following a holiday in the neighbouring small island of Sark, they moved to Sark, where William continued to paint the details of its rugged coastline and landscape.  He had many works exhibited on the mainland, including large scale Sark paintings accepted for both the 1885 and 1887 Royal Academy exhibitions.  Toplis was a dedicated painter with a determined eye and hand, and went to great lengths to capture impressions of the island... 
    "...he built a wooden platform and fixed it to the side of the cliff with the use of ropes. Christmas lowered him to the platform by rope and he was then able to obtain the view he required for the painting."
There are always painters on Sark, as everywhere.  Rocks on waves.
William upheld the beauty and nature of Sark, during a transition from a wonderful and advanced island of freedom and peace, through the early changes of the times. In the nineteenth century, ahead of his time, Helier de Carteret had created a somewhat Utopian democracy in Sark under the guise of a feudal state. By the end of the nineteenth century, Sark was still ahead of the times, in that it had degenerated into the first of Europe's fascist dictatorships.  This was under the control of one extended family, which was under the control of one man.
'The Causeway, Sark'
This pattern of control, though the periods of industrialisation and wealth generation, became a more dominant feature of the island, and one which William riled against. The island’s ruler sought to evict Toplis and his family, however William resisted keenly, his sense of decency and rightfulness aided by always having, at any time, several unfinished landscape paintings to complete on the island. The dominant family was itself over-ruled when Sark was captured and occupied by German forces during the second World War. Toplis’ troubles, such as "Last night at 11.30pm another shot was fired at the same bedroom window..." were then at the hands of the new oppressor.
Sark remains a troubled island today, through the political and economic interference of the wealthy Barclay Brothers who have had a castle built for themselves on a neighbouring island.

Waves over rocks.
'Creux Harbour, Sark'. Watercolour
William passed away on Sark in 1942, during the German occupation, and Eleanor followed in 1944.

In the summer of 1993 I lived on Sark for 9 weeks. On the neighbouring island of Brecqhou, a castle was being built. From Sark’s cliff tops we saw crates delivered by helicopter. 
The rocks and waves and colours of Sark are still as William Toplis painted. If you holiday on Sark, you may also wish to stay there.

William Toplis' paintings are mostly in private collections, and rarely seen.  Some remain in the Channel Islands as part of the collection of the Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, along with many of his sketches, and works by some of the other Channel Islands artists.  The Gallery is at St Peter's Port, which is also where one can take the small foot-ferry from Guernsey to Creux Harbour on Sark.

Monday, 2 September 2019

Call-out for artists to talk to children at Busy Bodies Child Care

We have received the following request from James Boddey, director of Busy Bodies Child Care Centre in Ludlow. 

For two weeks (16th - 26th Sept) our nursery theme is Art and we are going to be exploring a range of famous artists and their processes. This will all lead to our first ever Art Show on the 27th September 2pm - 4pm. The Art Show will be open to all and an opportunity to show off the Artwork the children have created.

We are looking for local artists, sculptors and designers to come in to talk to the children about how they create their work. This is an opportunity to inspire the children, share their work and get a shout out on our website and Facebook page.

If you need any more information please email and I will forward your email to James.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Summer Exhibition Highlights

Sales are going well and we will update this post with full information as soon as we have accurate figures. The following paintings have been chosen as winners by our various prize sponsors to whom we are extremely thankful. We also thank Ludlow Spar and Blakemore Foundation for the generous donation of £60 towards the preview evening which enabled us to open the doors to the general public as well as invited guests. The results of the public vote are listed underneath.
Twenty Twenty Gallery Prize (£50 cash)
"Beehives, Kefalonia" by Samuel Bebb

Castle Bookshop Prize (£25 voucher)
"Tasteful Nude" by Martin Crowdy

The Mayor of Ludlow's Choice
"Dance of Conflict" by Alicia Lothian

LAS President's Choice (£25 cash)
"Isolation, Glencoe, Scotland" by Carl Niblett

Chang Thai Bar & Restaurant Prize (£20 voucher)
"Promenade on the Pier, 1905" by Peter Ramage

Ludlow Brewery Prize (beer gift pack)
"Vistas" by David Tedham

Results of the public vote

CarlNiblettIsolation, Glencoe, Scotland73
Li LyWangPipe Smoker37
Li LyWangLudlow Road in Winter29
Shelley XChanPablo Picasso29
RowanneCowley"A Mile in Yours"24
LesleyConnollyLadies That Lunch23
CarlNiblettLoch Ness, Scotland23
RobLeckeyBarmouth Beach23
Li LyWangOne Man and His Dog21
ValLittlehalesUntitled I20
CarlNiblettGone Swimming', Nefyn Beach, North Wales19
LesleyConnollyCat in a Box17
GhislaineBeesonThe Will be Rockpools16
Li LyWangRain Alley Shrewsbury16
LenaJarl-ChurmGoing Out15
GeorginaFeatherAlicante Tom's15
Li LyWangVan Gogh's Ludlow12
MartinCrowdyPuffin Family11
GeorgeLoadesTowards Tor Cross - Devon11
ValerieAlexanderThe Sunhat, Skiathos11
MattJennesonWinter Hues10
Li LyWangAscetics From North India10
JohnWillettsSnow at English Bridge, Shrewsbury9
GhislaineBeesonMagical Light9
WilfredLangfordStiperstones from Gleanings9
RichardOlsenBoxing Day Hunt9
MattJennesonWinter Reflections9
CarlNiblettPoppies, Bewdley9
RobLeckeyWinter at Stokesay Castle9
FrankHiltonRainy Dales Day8
GhislaineBeesonFeel the Colour8
AlexandraAdamsYou and Whose Army8
AlexandraAdamsEwe Follow Me8
PeterRamageHomeward Bound8
GeorgeLoadesIn The Langdale Valley7
GeorgeLoadesAt the Dartmouth Ferry7
CarlNiblettCamusdarach Sunset, Mallaig, Scotland7
WilfredLangfordManstone Rock, Stiperstones6
Anne EPriestShe's Keeping Watch6
RichardOlsenThree White Horses6
RichardOlsenWindmill at Lley6
PeterRamageCornish Farm6
ValerieAlexanderFantasia 116
ValerieAlexanderBack Water, Venice6
Li LyWangVan Gogh with Cigarette6
AlexandraAdamsSunlight and Shadow5
SueGreenHare Brained5
ValLittlehalesSummer Evening5
Li LyWangWild Duck in Flight5
MaryPhillips WestEchinaceas5
GretchenIndA Road Less Travelled5
JohnWillettsGreat Western Roundhouse4
LesleyConnollyHeavy Horses4
GhislaineBeesonAcross the Estuary4
GhislaineBeesonMarsh Wet4
LarryTurnerMonmouthshire & Brecon Canal, Brecon4
LarryTurnerTowards the Chancel, St Laurence's Church4
RichardOlsenLone Cowboy at Sunset4
ValLittlehalesOwl Over The Mynd4
Li LyWang"I will be good to you"4
SamuelBebbBeehives, Kefalonia4
FrankHiltonJessie's Blue Jug3
FrankHiltonJack Scout Cove3
MartinCrowdyBurford Churchyard3
MartinCrowdyFetch to Windward3
MartinCrowdyTasteful Nude3
GhislaineBeesonThe Wind Touches Clouds and Grass3
MargaretBookerToward the Wells, Cleobury Mortimer3
RichardOlsenComing Down the Back Straight3
PeterBishopClee Hill, Shropshire3
MattJennesonLife's a Birch3
ValDaviesKeeping Watch3
ValDaviesGrandad's Shed3
ValDaviesLooking For Mischief3
ValLittlehalesIn the Harvest Field3
ValTurnerWorcester Cathedral & Severn3
TomCroweThe New Creation3
MargaretRowsonPontesbury Hill3
FrankHiltonHigh Force2
LenaJarl-ChurmThe Calling2
MartinCrowdyBurford Trees2
RosKingstonMother and Cub2
GhislaineBeesonThe Sky Changes so Quickly2
AlexandraAdamsPoppy Seed Heads2
AlexandraAdamsStokesay Castle2
SueGreenBad Hair Day2
SueGreenSwanning Around2
PeterBishopMortimer Forest, Shropshire2
PeterRamagePromenade on the Pier - 19052
MattJennesonThe Angel2
ValerieAlexanderMarket Stalls, Ludlow2
ValLittlehalesUntitled II2
ThelmaAyreWinter Farm2
ThelmaAyreSummer Landscape2
Li LyWangWood Carving in Ludlow2
Li LyWangThe Portcullis in Ludlow2
TresiHallThe Old Mill2
AliciaLothianDance of Conflict2
GretchenIndOld Street, Ludlow2
GeorginaFeatherWhite Feathers2
MargaretRowsonCranberry Rock2
JohnWillettsPoldark Country1
JohnWillettsLords Hill Farm, Stiperstones1
JohnWillettsEarl's Hill, Shropshire Hills1
DavidTedhamFire Wire1
DavidTedhamSlide Lights1
LenaJarl-ChurmBirch Trees1
RosKingstonDinham Bridge, Ludlow1
GeorgeLoadesOn The Beach at Tenby1
GhislaineBeesonThe Tide Goes Out So Far1
Anne EPriestCharlie1
Anne EPriestKes1
RuthTuneStaint Bernard "Troy"1
RuthTuneRed Kite1
MargaretBookerFrom the Dining Room Window1
MargaretBookerA Quiet Moment on a Walk by the Thames1
RichardOlsenFarmyard at Onibury1
ValDaviesGentle Waters1
ThelmaAyreEvening Light1
ValTurnerPears on a Blue Plate1
ValTurnerFete at Brampton Bryan1
TomCroweA Genuine Fake Picasso1
GeorginaFeatherMoth Orchid with the Blues1
MargaretRowsonApril Showers1

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Robin Holder: The River Severn

The River Severn: Source to Sea; a Journey in Paper and Canvas

Robin Holder will present our next evening meeting on 5th September. Robin combines working on-site, either from the riverbank or Canadian canoe, with time spent in the studio using a variety of media including recently acquired digital skills.  He describes his work as intuitive, somewhere on the scale between figurative and abstract, allowing a sub-conscious approach to yield a gritty and sometimes melancholic creation.

Saturday, 10 August 2019

Spotlight: Tools of the trade

A detail of Chinese artist Ma Yuan's "On a Mountain Path in Spring". 1190-1225 CE
How new is your art technology?  What do you use in your creativity?
Painters use paintbrushes, usually.  We think of them as synonymous: that’s what they’re called.  However “paintbrushes” as we know them are newer than “painting”.
The notion of bristled brushes is attributed to around 300BC, in China, and they were used for writing rather than for painting.  They were made of animal fur hairs tied to bamboo.  Previous painting was done with sticks of fibrous plants, such as reeds, often lashed together to form a thick handle.
The “brush” part was made by shredding the sticks or reeds at one end so that the inner fibres were exposed to form a painting tool. Paints were thicker, and line thickness was not varied in a stroke as it is in calligraphy. 

The Chinese calligraphic use of their new design of brush from 300BC was with ink rather than paint, creating nuance of line rather than areas of colour, just as traditional Chinese art is more akin to monochrome line drawing than Western painting.

The paintbrush became relevant to style in Impressionist art.  Hog hair brushes are stiff, and good for carrying thick paint such as un-thinned oils.
This is a distinctive feature of the change that the Impressionists made: colours applied more boldly and thickly, unblended, and leaving clear evidence of brushstroke action, which meant that the end result shows the decisive actions of the painter.  The painter effectively makes assertions about their interpretation of a scene, rather than aiming to make it look purely realistic.  This was facilitated by brush makers starting to use metal around that time, instead of threads, as the material to clamp the bristles in place.  Brushes could now easily be made flat rather than round, and these new tool forms allowed the Impressionists to daub and blotch rather than make lines or blend thin paints and inks.
Meules, Milieu du Jour – Claude Monet
It is amazing to think that we are using a technology that is over 2,000 years old when we paint with a brush.  It seems to suggest that painting may be as much a craft as an art, given how traditional its techniques are.  So when more modern technologies are used in art, such as computers or spraycans, and we may feel uncomfortable about the apparent compromise, we can also consider how technologies in the past have accompanied the expressive nature of art.
The point perhaps, is that however we “paint”, we use what suits our aims and desires. 

What will they think of next?!
Steven Spazuk
Greta Thunberg, by Steven Spazuk, painted with fire