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Friday, 13 December 2019

Spotlight: Tolkein

Spotlight, this December, glows across lands like a fire in a mountain cave, the eye of Sauron, or a beam from a wizard's staff.  We look at the art of JRR Tolkein, creator of 'Lord of the Rings' and 'The Hobbit', and other worlds.  And this one.
Many of his drawings for The Hobbit were found in 2011, and have been exhibited and published over the past few years.
There are also many recently discover illustrations that do not relate to his books, but simply show his artistic proclivities and skills.  
So much has arisen through those thoughts and forms.  Whole visions that have shaped our world as well as the worlds on paper and page.

If the past few weeks have seemed like a mixture of 'Downton Abbey' meets 'Zombie Apocalypse', we can take comfort in the Palaces and orc hordes of 'Lord of the Rings', the contested strongholds and personal journeys, shared directions, and heavy burdens, and the onward journeys.  
It's all there in metaphor and tale.
I hope this continues to show us all, if needed, what culture means and does, and the part it plays in everything we are, and we become.  These creations are part of the real world as well as fantasy worlds - and also the areas in between, where life and fantasy intermix.  
Merry Christmas and happy tales to all LAS members, and everyone near you.
See you at a LAS social, or a LAS talk.  It's part of what we're all about!

Themes of Lord of the Rings:
Town of Culture:

Thursday, 5 December 2019

New Gallery Opening In Ludlow.

Stone House Gallery opens on Friday December 6th. Located on Corve Street James and Gabrielle Service aim to provide a space for a variety of artists to show their work.
A new venture so please pop in and show your support.

James and Gabrielle said: “Our ambition has been to create a pioneering gallery space promoting artists whose specific talents inspire us. 

Tel no. 01584 873644

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Village Art Clubs

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Learn To Paint And Draw. 

Whether you are an experienced artist or a complete beginner you are promised a warm welcome. Classes are held at various venues across Herefordshire and at: 

St Peters Church Parish Centre         Club times: Mondays 2-4pm
Henley Road                                          Tutor   Linzi Whitting                                        
Spring Term Dates:13th January, 20th January, 27th January, 3rd February, 10th February, 17th February, 24th February, 2nd March, 9th March, 16th March
Contact: Liz on 07938 563716 or email

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Solo Exhibition by LAS Member Carl Niblett

Carl invites LAS members to attend an open evening on Thursday 12th December.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

Spotlight: Vitruvian Light

Have you ever wondered about the sensations you get when you stand in a tall church or the huge entrance of a museum? 
This month’s spotlight shines down from above, from the high, patterned windows and vaulted ceilings of sacred buildings. It is as if there is something greater than we can see. 
In some places of worship, and in grand museums and halls, we feel transcendence, as if in the presence of something greater. Many people with no beliefs in god or gods, feel a sense of awe when in these places. This month’s spotlight looks at the heritage of these sensations, in paint and stone, glass and light. 

Exeter Cathedral
Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Vitruvian Man’ was inspired by the principles of a Roman engineer and architect, Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, commonly known as Vitruvius. Vitruvius practiced, and wrote of mathematical forms. 

He wrote about how to select materials to honour a building’s purpose, and he described three fundamental principles for design: firmitas (strength), utilitas (functionality), and venustas (beauty). Some of our experience of awe-inspiring buildings is probably thanks to these background approaches and principles, which presumably must work because “sacred geometry” has been practiced quite consistently for many centuries, though many faiths, with noticeable effects.

Curves of a shell, described geometrically with the Fibonacci sequence
Sacred buildings usually have curved ceilings, not just because the arch was the only way to achieve great height, but in order to spread light evenly inside the heights of the building. Just as the acoustics are intended to avoid echoes, and show the one-ness of the divine, similarly the curved ceilings are intended to spread evenly the light from above, that comes in through tall windows. In the religious sense, divine light has no dead-end corners or delimiting edges. It is even and omnipresent. These ideas have formed how art and architecture draw people together, in the acoustics and light of sacred buildings and music venues and theatres, to convey euphoria, and embrace unity and greatness.
JMW Turner, Ludlow Castle, watercolour, 1829-1830
The Ludlow Art Society has many practitioners of classical and traditional art techniques, such as watercolours and oils. These manifestations of curves and shading sometimes seem like a personal version of those grand enduring principles of how light and sound swirl in harmony.

'Shropshire Hills', oil on canvas, by 

If we are trying to create art which is concerned with sensations beyond the visual communication of two-dimensional drawings and paintings, we could look to the Vitruvian principles, and sacred geometry, as Leonardo da Vinci did. Indeed, many of us use these principles without being aware, simply because their effect is ingrained in our experience and culture.

Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio in nature
It is sobering to reflect that our own homes show none of these principles and geometries. We dwell, in modern times, under low ceilings with rectangular walls, flat surfaces, and sharp corners. The design of our own homes is the antithesis of the ideas of Vitruvius, the aesthetics of da Vinci, and vaulted places of wonder. It is as if houses and flats are designed to reduce such sensations. Or, as Corbusier described, in what is still the best selling book ever about architecture, "A house is a machine for living in".
Art is crucial, when our dwellings and technologies can seem to negate a sense of greater purpose or humanitarian unity.
Image: Covisioning zem design michael rice architect
consciousdesign com michael rice architect
When you take some rough, white cartridge paper, or a curling watercolour sheet with stone-like texture, and you place on it the curves of brush, you are manifesting more than an image.


Jenny Trotman, Home Study Courses in Watercolour and Drawing


Light, God’s eldest daughter, is a principal beauty in a building.” Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian and author of The Worthies of England.

Norwich Cathedral with 55 foot tall Helter Skelter, August 2019

God would be "revelling" in the joy a "glorious" helter-skelter has brought to Norwich Cathedral, its bishop has told his congregation from its slide. - BBC News

EPILOGUE : how this topic arose for Spotlight
   The phrase “20-20 Vision” is cropping up as a theme for next year’s arts festivals.
In art history, new concepts grow in times of uncertainty and turmoil. Remembrance Day has reminded us of such times. 2020 is waving challenges about the environment, government and cohesion.
   The theme of “2020 Vision” is making festival organisers think about what “Vision” means today.
   Inclusivity, particularly for arts funding bids, pushes festival organisers to interpret “Vision” around accessibility, and art for people who do not have vision, literally: people who cannot see. There are sound based art forms, and installations we can touch, so art without sight could be a theme. But that is somewhat extraneous, and it is more about removing parts of art, rather than building on wonders that have been achieved – including by visual artists who worked to reconcile wars as well as wonder. Remembrance Day is not only about soldiers, and the role of artistic culture in “battles of hearts and minds” seem a valid alternative to bloodshed. So another way of thinking about “2020 Vision” is how the arts shape and respond to local, national and global visions. For a single artist this can seem like a grandiose expectation, but festivals work beyond the level of individual artistic interests. They are about community.
   Some of the Vitruvian principles have formed how art and architecture have drawn people together, in the acoustics and light of sacred buildings and theatres, to convey a sense of wonder.
   Considering this from the perspective of what “Vision” can mean as we move through the aspirations of 2019 to 2020, sensations can be conveyed through form in ways which are more than visual.  It struck me that the blends of colours and light in watercolours, and the expanding curve drawn when you keep your hand on a page, are akin to the principles and curves of sacred geometry, and the blend of light in great buildings.  Bringing people together through awe is part of art's role, and vision, at personal and collective scales.
    - Matt Smart, Ludlow Art Society, November 2019


Tuesday, 29 October 2019

The Artists Gallery Ludlow Farm Shop

The Exhibition runs from Saturday October 5th until the end of December and showcases the work of a range of local artists.

Friday, 18 October 2019

International Watercolour Masters 2020

A Celebration Of Master Artists And Inspirational Watercolour At It's Best

5th - 15th May 2020.  Lilleshall. Shropshire.
Exhibiting artists include:  Tianya Zhou

                                       Tickets £5.00 SAA members. Non members £8.00

For more info:

Ledbury Art Society Christmas Exhibition


Thursday, 10 October 2019

Spotlight: Sticking tape

This month’s brief Spotlight is about sticking tape.  It holds things together.  Or it masks edges, if you want to paint some gloss over a window frame.  Tape art.
Max Zorn creates images with sticking tape.
He started by putting tape on street lights.
It evolved.
Max is now well sought-after, with about 18 months’ wait for commissions.
Ok, the stuff is tacky, but lots of people love it.  And it probably says something, if that matters.
Max Zorn is based in Amsterdam.  He has exhibited in the UK, in 2017 and 2016, at The Old Truman Brewery in East London (I had a piece up in a record store round the corner from there last year!).  Mainly he exhibits in Germany and USA.
Many artists, particularly from the Netherlands, have been reticent about UK appearances since 2016.  Around June 23rd, 2016.
It might be nice to stick together.

Monday, 7 October 2019

Aberystwyth University’s Lifelong Learning Programme now at Ludlow Mascall Centre

Stella Stilwell is running the following courses at Ludlow Mascall Centre on behalf of Aberystwyth University’s Lifelong Learning Programme this term. If you can't read the phone number it's 01970 621580.

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