Cameron Short’s ‘Ode to the Ash’ was inspired by ash dieback. He said he felt compelled to celebrate this tree ‘not just for its graceful lines, but for its usefulness over the ages.’ His beautifully worked wood block print evokes a sense of history and depth. Around the ash tree are figures from folklore and times past: a herdsman who carries an ash stick to keep the Evil Eye away from his stock, a country girl who, hoping to meet her true love, keeps an ‘even ash’ (a leaf with an equal number of leaflets on either side) in her glove, and a woodsman who kneels reverently beneath the great tree. ‘Ode to the Ash’ is one of many special pieces exhibited in the third Marshwood Arts Awards exhibition at Bridport Arts Centre this month.
David Risk Kennard’s striking engraved panels, showing for the first time outside of his studio in Powerstock, are made from found driftwood. They are drawn, painted and stained until quite dark, then cut back to the lighter wood. The effect of his work is incredibly powerful and impressive. A first sight of his long landscape is unforgettable.
Maggie Luff’s vibrant colours impressed Lord Bath so much that he choose her for his ‘Collector’s Choice’ award, whilst Philip Hutt’s closely observed still-life photographs of seed heads compliment Linda Wilkes’ beautifully detailed pastels of birds. Strong fresh colour repeats in the work of Elise Menghini’s ‘Bulb Sign’ and ‘Bowls’ as well as Christopher Taylor’s fabulous ceramic pots, whilst thirteen year-old Mary Florence’s painting of a sheep called Jack is delightfully enchanting.
John De Pauley’s glowing burnished steel ‘Ares’ stands like a powerful figure of a boxer or swimmer, contrasting with the flowing design in curves of Jack Draper’s brown oak chair and Alice Blogg’s wooden towel rail. Victoria Upton’s crashing wave photograph, taken at night in Cuba, is from a larger body of photography on the subject of water.
It is not possible in this space to highlight every exhibitor and these few lines cannot do justice to the broad scope of an exhibition that is both intriguing and beguiling. Sculptured shapes challenge our view of the world we inhabit, whilst textiles, ceramics, furniture, photography and paintings create a collage of inspiration; coaxing the viewer to delve deeper into each piece.
The system of using different judges to choose who will exhibit in each exhibition ensures a fresh approach and throws up surprises and often exciting new work. And by also changing some of the judges each time, there are new connections and challenges for both artists and visitors.
The Marshwood Arts Awards exhibition was born out of a wish to highlight the work of artists throughout the wider community, as well as out of an interest in creating a challenging mix of form and creativity in one room. It has achieved both, with the added bonus of capturing one of the more unlikely and memorable moments in our time. A fitting celebration of the 200th issue of the Marshwood Vale Magazine.
Thanks to the sponsorship of the Awards by the local businesses below, all artists exhibiting receive a financial reward as well as the opportunity to participate alongside the judges in this unique exhibition.
The exhibition is at Bridport Arts Centre and runs until November 21.
Closed Sunday and Monday. (See www.bridport-arts.com for more information).