ANB Spring Exhibition in Ampthill – Review

After months of preparation and hard work, the exhibition of the Artists Network of Bedfordshire (ANB) at Parkside Hall this weekend demonstrates that Ampthill is the new “arty” town for beauty lovers and art collectors. The quality of the works presented and the professionalism of the exhibitors and artists was exceptional! the event was beautifully organised and visitors were nicely impressed with the level and talent of the artists. This rightful perception may be explained by two main reasons: one, the Artists Network of Bedfordshire is a growing hub of talented artists and the level for being part of the group is certainly high. The second reason is the excellent management skills of Tom Frost and his team: Tom built the stands, organised the people and coordinated the actions of both the admin team and the artists during the two days of the exhibition.

The spirit of the ANB of friendly support and professionalism shows through the exhibition: it allowed new talent to show their work in the company of more experienced artists. There was a nice combination of painting, sculpture, craft and photography, which was appealing for the public. The publicity was very good, people knew of the event because of mail lists, leaflets, internet, social media, and word of mouth. This may be the opportunity also to make Ampthill, a gorgeous Georgian town, the new epicenter of art in central Bedfordshire. Although the place is the home of talented artists such as Jill Taylor and Jo Robinson, there is an influx of art thanks to the new Golden Hare Gallery and quirky places like Cakestand&Crumb exhibiting the work of local talented artists.  Further, the exhibition really brought together an amazing variety of visual languages, and in this blog I will try to highlight some of my impressions from the paintings and conversations with the artists:

Tiffany Logan exhibited her textured and ethereal “still life”, in her paintings, she aimed at simplifying the elements of a scene, getting to the essential shapes and luminosity. She “flattens” the scene to create different layers of light and colour, while letting the painting to become: this is a process in which the painting takes over, creating happy accidents or any other serendipity moments. These are exquisite paintings in beautiful vibrant colours.  Next to her, the work of Carol McDermott makes a nice complement. Carol’s paintings in this exhibition are related to flowers and shapes. But she is not really concerned about “flowers per se“, instead she concentrates on the shapes and contrasts of light and shade created by the juxtaposition of different volumes.  I was impressed by the almost transparent quality of her brushstroke, and she revealed to me that it is a matter of getting a thin oil based painting and patiently apply as many layers as required. Her work was one of my favorites in the exhibition, perhaps because my love for botanical paintings, and I felt I could learn so much from her masterly application of paint and original focus on shapes.
On the more traditional spectrum of visual art, the portraits of Lynn Horsnell reveal the sculptoric qualities of her brushstroke.  A professional artist, Lynn brings a new luminosity to portraits while keeping a personal connection with the sitter. Alongside Lynn, the work of Louise Wooldridge shows a polychromatic dimension of the  human form. In this painting, presented in the exhibition, she works directly with a model, trying to go beyond the traditional “life drawing” into the territory of the abstract and emotional. Louise explains that in this painting she “bleeds the paint” making it more loose and using the paint to navigate the different skin colours and shadows. In this group also Joanna Stone (previously mentioned) also presented some of her enigmatic and symbolic portraits. Joanne also runs a “life drawing” class every wednesday, so it is worth a visit!
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