There’s a new, pop-up art gallery in Shaftesbury this week.
Three local artists are selling paintings that depict what they have experienced during 2018. And you’ll have a chance to meet Helen Baddeley, Sharon Bielby and Bethan Venn during their show, ‘A Celebration Of A Year In Paint’, which runs until Saturday.
Keri Jones from ThisIsAlfred.com found that the artists’ styles are very different. “We can offer something for different people within one space. Although our work is different, there is also a synergy and a togetherness within our work,” said Helen, as she showed me around the art on the walls of the vast hall space at Father’s House. “We have got one wall with work from all three of us on it – next to each other. I think it shows that our sense of colour and movement is very similar as well as different.”
Sharon first exhibited in 2014 as part of the Dorset Arts Weeks and she displayed her work in the Shaftesbury Arts Centre’s gallery earlier this year. Helen has been a professional artist for two years and she has hosted children’s’ art groups for the last five years. So how would the three women describe their style?
Helen says she aims to capture scenes inspired by what she sees within nature. “Landscapes, particularly sea and trees and lots of blues, greens. But it’s not traditional. I like to have an open style and lots of colour. I like to look for the colour that is deep within the picture.”
Sometimes Helen picks hues that are bright, vibrant and unexpected. The coast features in many of her paintings. “I love Cornwall and I’ve also painted quite a few pieces in South Africa, France and the Greek Islands. Earlier this year I painted the Californian redwood forests. That was a really big inspiration,” said Helen.
Whilst most people take pictures on their holidays, it seems that Helen paints the postcard views. “I tend to start from photographs and I collect images as I am going around. I use them as my inspiration. Helen’s favourite displayed painting depicts Studland. “It’s a very important part of my life and is really close to my heart at the moment,” Helen said.
Sharon says that her art is more abstract although her former career as a landscape architect has influenced her style in more figurative paintings of flowers. “I like very big and bold. I like to use big brushes and the bigger the canvas, the better,” Sharon said.
Of all of her most recent work, Sharon likes a painting called ‘The Presence’ the most. “It has bold swirls of pinks, oranges and purples because it is current in my thinking and life comes from it. I hope that my painting conveys hope and an expression of what is going on within.”
Sharon says she does present her personal feelings on canvas. “To exhibit your work is quite nerve-wracking. It is a little bit like being naked. You can feel quite vulnerable,” Sharon added. I asked whether she had ever decided not to exhibit a painting because she felt she was sharing too much of her innermost feelings. “I certainly have painted stuff and covered it up again and thought, ‘I’m not putting that out’,” she laughed. “Occasionally that happens.”
Much of Bethan’s creativity involves designs on textiles and she enjoys creating repeated patterns on her chosen fabrics. Her work is influenced by the changing seasons, her surroundings and sounds. “I think I have synaesthesia. I think of things in colour,” said Bethan.
That intrigued me. So does it work with any sound, I asked. If, for instance, Bethan is woken up by pneumatic drill, could she see something visual from that, even if she could not see the activity? “Probably, but I tend to relate more to music or emotional experiences, which prompt more of a creative response from me with colour, shape and sound.”
The artists’ pop-up exhibition is at Father’s House. The women say that the venue offers a good place to showcase their art and they hope that art lovers and shoppers will take the short stroll from the centre of Shaftesbury, along to Christy’s Lane, to view their show.
“This is a great space for big pieces of work, which is quite hard to find when you have three people to fill the venue. We could overfill this. I think that the work and the colour will make people curious enough to come and have a look,” said Sharon.
You’ll be able to meet the artists and buy their paintings during a number of special events this week. “On Thursday, we will be here from 11am to 4pm with cups of tea, coffee and cake. It’s all free. In the evening, we will be here between 7pm and 9pm with mulled wine and we will be painting while we exhibit, so if you’d like to come and watch us paint and talk to us about style and how we work, you are welcome. Beth will also have some other cushions and scarves,” said Helen.
“On Friday, there’s the acoustic café event and there will be an opportunity for people to come and listen to the music and view the artwork. On Saturday between 11am and 2pm, the gallery will be open.”
There’s been a growth in arts events and venues in Shaftesbury recently. This Thursday at 6pm, for instance, there’s another chance to meet local artists in the Arts Centre’s gallery. On Friday 7th, The Shaftesbury Group host their monthly art fair, during the day, in the Town Hall.
Bethan believes that there’s a culture of creativity across our part of the Westcountry, in places like Frome, Bath and the Dorset coast. She believes that more people are discovering the benefits of being creative. “It brings life to them and it’s a way of expressing themselves. Once you’ve discovered something that benefits you like that it helps you with your well-being and mental and physical health.”
Although this pop-up art sale will end on Saturday, the three friends hope to exhibit together in the future. “We certainly have exhibited together in the past on quite a few occasions,” said Bethan. “We are hoping that this will continue to grow and we’re looking for opportunities to exhibit with other people and at another venue.”