Monday, 20 August 2018

Going green - the wonder of grass

10 days ago the world was still brown. We'd had rain - actually quite a lot of it at the end of July - but nothing seemed to have changed much. The lawn was still like coir matting and even the deep-rooted weeds were looking tired. And then almost imperceptibly the world started to change; just a hint on Wednesday, the merest suggestion on Thursday and then by Friday, green re-entered our dry world.

Curiously some of the first signs were not acvtually grass, but in the dust and gravel along the side of Norfolk's rural roads where grain spilled by contractor's trailers, having first provided a feast for the wood pigeons, burst into unexpected life. And now just a few days on the verges are definitely turning green - you can almost see them growing.

As for the lawns, even though we know - and are always told - not to water them as they will recover in September, this year did seem to be stretching our belief. But the grass is growing - and we're still in August. What a wonderful thing!

Thursday, 26 July 2018

Hot off the press

Just four months ago it seemed like Spring would never come. In some ways it never did and we leapt straight from the freezer onto the barbecue. For us lucky enough to be here in North Norfolk there have been few complaints, sea breezes making our lives disproportionately easier than those who live and work in cities. However, it is now finally getting to us here, with everyday seeing the fire service rushing to extinguish another field fire, whilst most gardeners hereabouts are starting to realise the havoc being wrought by such a long period without rain. Sadly, I imagine the coming months will also reveal how many trees have succumbed.

For the gallery, the good weather has brought more visitors but even they are now starting to find it a little warm, particularly in the middle of the day. Our artists are similarly affected - the memories of being too cold to work now seem like a dream - and many are understandably taking time out from the studio.

Particular problems face the printmaker, with inks adopting unusual characteristics in persistent conditions of high temperature and humidity, even if the maker can cope. Fortunately for us, our current exhibition of wonderful prints by Louise Davies was made before the onset of the current heat. Louise is one of the artists who has shown with us for many years, firstly in Norwich and subsequently here in Burnham. Her work is characterised by vivid colour - hot reds and oranges and also the cooler greens and blues - and offers the chance to acquire some seriously good art at very affordable prices.

Writing about the process of her work Louise says "My prints are created from immediate drawings that I do from my sketchbook. For me, the sketchbook is a vital tool for the beginning of my work. I feel very connected to the landscape and to the seasons and try to convey the feeling, shapes, lines and colours of being in the landscape either at a certain time of day or at a certain time of year.

My prints are often created with three plates and sometimes include a collagraph. I love colour and use the different plates, with Aquatint, to pursue a final print, which I hope will have luminous colour and depth in it. The proofing stage can take weeks as I keep trying different colour fields. It can therefore take a while to finally finish the image. My overall mission is to make something that I feel has a balance pictorially. Nature seems to do this effortlessly and this is what I would like to achieve in my work"

The exhibition "A feel for the land" was due to conclude at the end of the month but given the interest - and the weather - we have decided to allow it to run on into August, with the closing date being posted on the website in due course.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

Coast and Field

It is not a pre-requisite for exhibitions to include the word 'Coast' in their title, but given the proximity of the gallery to the coast and the fundamental connection between our part of Norfolk and the sea, it is definitely becoming a habit.

Our next exhibition does, with Coast and Field which opens in the gallery on Friday 1st June at 6pm, and features the vibrant paintings of local (very local) artists Kevin and Ann-Marie Ryan.

At their last exhibition with us three years ago,  I referred to how best to write about successful artists on their return for further exhibitions. As I noted then ”The biographical details remain the same and in most cases the style and approach are a development of what has gone before, and which underpins their reputation  – which, of course, is why they have been invited back”  This still holds true, and amongst our regular returnees, Ann-Marie and Kevin Ryan have seen consistent success over the last 16 years.

At the heart of all their work are their distinctive palettes embuing their perception of the underlying earthforms of the Norfolk scene with a warmth that strikes a chord with many who appreciate the distinctive character of the area.  Their paintings are not normal for Norfolk.  Vibrant, rich and sometimes dark colours are not what most associate with the county and yet they are very much in tune with it.

For those who are familiar with their work, this latest collection builds on their considerable reputation.  For those who are less familiar – come and see – for almost inevitably, the limitations of reproduction tell only part of the story.

COAST AND FIELD - Ann-Marie and Kevin Ryan, June 1st to 23rd

Monday, 16 April 2018

Fragile Coast

In the two years since her last exhibition at Burnham Grapevine, Mari French has emerged as one of Norfolk’s fastest rising stars on the national art scene.

The roots of Mari French’s paintings lie in her deep-seated love and affinity with landscape and weather. Born in Manchester she grew up close to the brooding presence of the Pennine hills and then spent 15 years living on the Isle of Skye in Scotland. Her early paintings from this time reflect the locale - powerful, at times moody and always evocative. Moving to live in Norfolk, her sources of inspiration and the resulting paintings changed - the colours brighter, and the mood less intense - but still capturing the elemental forces of these wild landscapes.

Her work is constantly evolving, with experimentation employing paint, ink, collage and oil pastel. The most recent paintings reflect a greater confidence, employing bigger brushes and bolder gestures, the work freer and more expressive but still evoking the interaction of wind, rain, and light.

Having been a selected artist in the 2014 Sunday Times Watercolour Competition her work has most recently been selected for the Royal Watercolour Society 2018 Contemporary Exhibition. Always fascinating to look at on first sight, Mari’s paintings reveal more about themselves and ourselves as time passes. 

The exhibition includes over 20 works with prices starting from £400 and continues until 5th May