Victoria Y-J Exhibition

    A level art students started the year with a series of workshops led by artist, Victoria Young-Jamieson, to coincide with her exhibition ‘Lightwaves’, which was in the BonBernard Gallery from 12 January to 9 February. The exhibition included paintings, photographs and moving visuals influenced by Victoria’s seaside childhood.

    Victoria spent some time with the Lower Sixth Form where she worked with them to show how she develops a piece, from start to end, allowing them to see the thought process and journey that Victoria takes. During her residency she aimed for the students to enjoy the process of experimentation and showed them how to view something in a different way, to be more experimental and to ‘see what happens’, demonstrating that there is no right or wrong way of painting. Over the two weeks, students learnt to mix untraditional materials such as clothes dye, salt, bleach, stain remover granules and fairy liquid with acrylic based inks and PVA to produce some exciting and unexpected results. The outcomes were displayed in the gallery, alongside Victoria’s work, following the conclusion of the workshop.

    20th Anniversary Art Exhibition 

    In September, the School hosted a very special Private View and Dinner to mark the 20th anniversary of the opening of its Arts School.  Over 30 alumni, many of whom have gone on to study and work in the Arts, brought back pieces of work ranging from paintings, sculptures, graphic pieces, photographs, clothing designs and jewellery.  Leavers spanned back to the mid 1990s.

    The evening began in the BonBernard Gallery, located at the front of the Art School, where a host of pupils and staff, both past and present, gathered for the Private View. Alumni professions included architects, graphic designers, opera house tailor, professional artists, jewellery designer, couture fashion designer and art teacher.

    The party of around 60 guests had a fabulous three-course dinner which was followed by a talk from the guest speaker, and old boy, James Richards, who works at Christie’s of London as the Head of British and Continental Pictures, Drawings, Watercolours and Interiors. 

    Director of Art, Caroline Evans, said: “It has been hugely gratifying to see the enthusiastic response we have had from our Old Decanians to be a part of this special event. It makes me exceptionally proud to welcome back these talented young people to exhibit in our gallery and to see the extraordinary diversity of the various artistic careers which they have forged for themselves in the years since we taught them Art at school. To feel that the Dean Close Art Department had a hand in inspiring and directing their lives is this way is a real thrill!”

    Betty Harrison - Elemental

    A private view was held for this stunning exhibition in the BonBernard Gallery in January.  Betty came along to meet a large number of guests including pupils, parents, staff and governors. Betty Harrison was born in the industrial North West of England. Her art education was put on hold, but after moving to Cheltenham, where she still lives, she gained a BA Hons in Fine Art at the University of Gloucestershire. During her second year she was awarded the Summerfield Scholarship to study at the British School of Rome and after a near sell-out degree show she continues to paint in her studio in Cheltenham.

    Betty’s work has been exhibited and sold at several galleries, in particular Hadfield Fine Art in Gloucestershire and has had work in the Royal West of England Academy’s Autumn Open Exhibition since 2010. Her work is in many private collections and she has completed several commissions.

    Betty says: “My paintings are mostly inspired by my love of the British landscape and in particular the subtle hues of autumn and winter. Mist shrouded beaches and snow clad fields and hillsides, mysterious forests and abandoned buildings in town or country all hold a fascination for me. My northern upbringing and my ancestry in the Orkney Islands of Scotland are perhaps the reasons why I am drawn to the understated sublimity of these shores. Some of my more recent work is also concerned with the depiction of animals and people in these landscapes.”

    Catherine Hope-Jones

    It was a thrill to have contemporary artist, Catherine Hope-Jones, exhibit a range of her work at Dean Close School in the Michaelmas Term. The run began with a Private View attended by a range of staff, pupils and friends of the School. Catherine is a contemporary, Cotswold based painter working between realism and abstraction. Her pieces were truly captivating and seemed to impart a sense of calm and serenity through the tones, colours and dynamics of her work. The artwork ranged from familiar flora settings with cascading waterfalls, blossoming white lilies and tranquil gardens, to more quirky, bright and abstract pieces with harsher lines and sharper patterns. Her work is brought to life through various textures that have been created by mark-making on surfaces that are scratched, erased, redrawn or repainted.

    Catherine, who attended the Private View, had a wonderful aura about her, with a kind gentle nature and witty sense of humour. Pupils surrounded her to ask questions about her inspiration and love for art. She explained how it was later on in life that she started to draw the pieces that were hanging around them in the gallery. Her works have been inspired by the visions of landscape modernists like Peter Lanyon and David Hockney, and the energy and exuberance of American abstract expressionists’. She has also won the prestigious Laing Landscape Painting Prize.

    Director of Art, Caroline Evans, said that it was a real pleasure to have Catherine’s beautiful, expressive work gracing the walls of our gallery. This was a technically exciting and diverse exhibition of paintings, and visitors had greatly enjoyed the spirited and experimental nature of the work.  

    Robert Perry

    Robert Perry is a landscape painter who travels widely throughout Europe, in his living-and-working mobile studio.  Working exclusively on location, his method is always a direct response to his subject matter, sometimes using materials found on site such as leaves, grasses and twigs to apply or manipulate the paint and create the richly textured surfaces that characterize his work.  Rob has a special interest in the 1914-18 Western Front and is well known for his work at various sites from both World Wars, including The Somme (where he has been made an Honorary Citizen of the town of Albert, epicentre of the Battle of the Somme), Ypres, Verdun, Oradour-sur-Glane, Auschwitz and Normandy.

    In January, the whole school assembled in the Bacon Theatre to watch Rob give an illustrated talk using TV footage and slides to describe aspects of his life as a travelling landscape painter. He also provided a brief historical outline of the First World War and an explanation of some of the intriguing painting techniques which he uses during his physical explorations of obscure and still dangerous sections of the trenches and tunnels of the battlefields of the Somme and Verdun.

    He held up British and Germany artifacts he had found lying on the old battlefield grounds where he paints, including helmets, bayonets, grenades and shrapnel.  It was fascinating to see such a unique way of creating artwork as well as hearing about some of the horrendous losses during that time.

    Following the talk, there was a Private View of Rob’s art in the BonBernard Gallery, based on the Battlefields of WW1.  Since he always works on site, sometimes at night or in very difficult conditions from the trenches or underground tunnels, his depictions are vivid, personal responses that succeed in capturing the true essence and atmosphere of these infamous locations.  It was a spectacular, and exceptionally moving and engrossing exhibition of technically accomplished art work, in a range of media and scale. The paintings and drawings were accompanied by two informative videos which showed the artist at work in the field and the exhibition stayed up in the Gallery until the middle of February.

    Helen Nottage

    The theme of my work surrounds the fragility of the human condition, in relation to both mortality and modernity. This involves various interpretations of decay as both a literal process and a state of mind. 

    The work emanated from looking at decay in general terms.  The parallel in the decay of organic life and the passing seasons is used as a metaphor to depict the same process in the form of a figure.  This has been explored through posture and surface, and by revealing the interior of each piece. I try to incorporate layers of meaning within the work and  have begun to explore narratives, combining prints and drawings into the surface.

    The symbol of the scissors within this context and the positioning of the hands within each piece have been used to signify a fear of mortality, with its inevitability being out of our control. The mask is another element incorporated into this subject matter. I consider the materialism and superficial concerns of modern living to be embodied by such an object. This can serve as another means of obscuring and hiding from the deterioration of the body.

    My influences include Prof. Gunther Von Hagens whose ‘Bodyworks’ exhibition explored the interior of the body, and also  Frida Kahlo, whose paintings delve beneath the surface to the inner workings of the body. The sculptures of Mary Frank are another major influence, as well as the ceramicists Carmen Dionyse and Paula Rice who both use the surface of their figures like a canvas to explore colour and texture. 

    The work I produce is made in a combination of terracotta, black crank and white earthenware paperclay.  These are formed in moulds from modelled pieces and body casts with hand built interiors to provide strength to the fragile surface. Colour and texture are applied to the clay prior to the building process. After the work is fired I apply a combination of oxides and glazes which are then washed off to emphasise the cracks and marks on the surface. 

    Jenny Westbrook

    Jenny is a Gloucester based artist who exhibits and teaches on a regular basis. Her work is abstract, with hybrid forms and sometimes contai

    ns recognisable imagery in the abstraction. She uses oils but more recently has preferred pastel on paper. She says of her work:

    “I don't start off with ideas, it's intuitive and organic. I may have a colour in mind or a shape that's all, the concept is generated through the practice. I begin by putting down areas of marks and form and then reacting to it,  adding anything new changes the relationships and the balance, there are many layers, changes and edits.

    The painting / drawing has it's own language, it's on the edge of one's consciousness and cannot easily be explained .  While I'm working I'm re living my memories and processing my emotions, although I tend to shrink away from angst and nudge it towards playfulness. I aim to make the work aesthetically & colourfully seductive and I hope free from cliché”.



    MATISSE: Drawing with Scissors. Late Works 1950 - 1954

    The French painter, sculptor and designer was one of the 20th century's most influential artists. His vibrant works are celebrated for their extraordinary richness and luminosity of colour. This exhibition featured 35 lithographic prints of the famous cut-outs, produced in the last four years of his life, when the artist was confined to his bed. It includes many of his iconic images, such as The Snail and the Blue Nudes.'There is no gap between my earlier pictures and my cut-outs', Matisse wrote; 'I have only reached a form reduced to the essential through greater absoluteness and greater abstraction'.

    PETER BLAKE: Alphabet

    Alphabet is a set of bold and colourful silkscreen prints, one for each letter of the alphabet, produced by the artist in 1991. Peter Blake emerged in the 1960s as one of the leading British Pop Artists; he is most famous, perhaps, for his cover design of The Beatles' Sergeant Pepper album in 1967. Alphabet characterises his method of working, incorporating 'found' imagery from postcards, magazines and popular ephemera. From the familiar Z for Zebra, to the esoteric P for Pachyderm and iconic K for King (Elvis Presley), these screen prints reflect his humour, nostalgia and eclecticism.

    DAVID HOCKNEY: Grimm’s Fairy Tales

    Inside the Castle, 1969In 1969 David Hockney made a series of prints to illustrate six fairy tales by the Brothers Grimm; a book was published the following year in a limited edition. Since then the etchings have been exhibited and admired throughout the world. Hockney is a natural draughtsman and the elegant lines and tonal variations of his prints precisely capture the mood of the tales. Whereas earlier illustrations tended to depict the crucial moments in stories, Hockney uses an array of imaginative graphic techniques to highlight descriptions in the text.The exhibition provided inspiration to Lower Sixth artists who were looking at Hockney's drawing techniques, and to Remove pupils who were working to the theme of figures and emotions.

    PICASSO: Historie Naturelle

    The Monkey, 1936A stunning set of 31 prints depicting animals, birds, insects and other creatures was on display. The images, started by Picasso in 1936 for the picture dealer and publisher, Ambroise Vollard, were created to accompany the classic text, Histoire Naturelle, written in 1749. Combining a wide variety of techniques, including lift-ground aquatint, etching and drypoint, Picasso produced images of great clarity, immediacy and beauty. Each picture is quite different in style to the next, and in one you can clearly see Picasso's fingerprints used over a bunch of grapes. Pupils in Remove, studying art, worked on their own animal-themed projects, taking inspiration from the Picasso exhibition.