Saturday, January 17, 2004

Yesterday a poster placed in the window of Hereford Art Gallery caught my eye. It announced an event called ‘Making a Splash’ which turned out to be an exhibition by St. Ives artists. The doors of the gallery were closed and enquiry at reception revealed that the exhibition did not open until today. I was saved from disappointment by a nearby gallery assistant who having overheard my enquiry asked if I had traveled far. “Oh about 30 miles,” I said, “from Ludlow.” At this she invited me to have a look round while they continued to hang the pictures and I was privileged to spend 20 minutes or so with three very friendly assistant curators who pointed out the paintings by artists I was interested in. It was a kind gesture that I really appreciated and I promised too return again to see the exhibition when it is up and running.

The exhibition has a painting by Stanhope Forbes of a group of figures enjoying a summer day in the shade of a tree lined pool. There was something familiar about the location and the way he handled the ripples on the water. Then I remembered his large canvas ‘The Drinking Place’ which is in Oldham Art Gallery. Did he work at the same spot for both pictures? It’s worth another visit to check. Critics have been rather sniffy about Forbes but in my view he handled paint very well. There was also a nice watercolour by Dame Laura Knight that I must return to study and a rather disappointing small work by Peter Lanyon painted in 1945 I didn’t get the title but it shows him working in the manner of Ben Nicholson and Naum Gabo. These flat abstracts created from linear designs have lost their novelty and interest now. Ten years later the linear basis is still there in his work but the colour is more subtle and textural treatment of the paint surface makes his work more appealing. Another visit to the exhibition is a must.

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