Review: Nine Suffolk Artists at the Picture Gallery

NINE of Suffolk’s most accomplished artists are now showing their work in a stunning new exhibition at Hintlesham Hall. This eclectic show covers a range of media and themes, but is unified by the quality of the work.

Among the real gems in the show are Julia Heseltine’s Summer Morning, oil, which features a female bedecked in bathing hat and attire, darting across a raised lawn to an inviting sea. Heseltine captures the action and anticipation of the figure, reminiscent of a svelte 1930s model in semi-flight. One is reminded of vintage seaside posters, when British resorts were in their heyday. The style, although realistic, is dreamily eloquent and invites questions; challenging the viewer’s imagination to create a narrative. Big Deal, oil, is equally atmospheric. Here, three suited men sit around a circular table their faces hidden behind Venetian style masks. The dark hazy purple and mauve hues are painted in an ethereal style; one feels like one is viewing the work through a gauze in which areas of light give clues to the action but the mystery remains unsolved.

Robin Warnes’ Wetherden Road, oil on paper, also challenges the viewer, but is contemplative too, as is his more abstract oil Enchanted. The first work is a semi abstract pastoral scene of lush greens and yellows which features three small trees. What impresses here is the sense of balance Warnes achieves in terms of colour, composition, and the use of horizontal line. You feel that a great deal of intellectual understanding has gone into creating this painting, even down to the significance of the scratches on areas of the surface. Like Enchanted, a work of beautifully banded lilacs and blues, it imbues you with a sense of the sublime.

Verena Daniels’ fused glass creations Mini Aglow and All Aglow, portray tiny rows of dappled trees and undulating skies in which patterns of reflected light encourage contemplation in nature’s joys. These highly skilful works have a specific rhythm and as the light catches them, shifting and moving, they appear to possess an inner life.

Sarah Baddon Price’s dynamic oil Reflected Objects , a still life of vases, reveals her interest in form; contrasting simple shape with energetic pattern, bold colour, and texture. Like the playful Mona Lisa Smiles it’s a confident painting which makes a definite imprint on the eye. Also arresting are Paul Bruce’s mixed media drawings which include the sensual Woman, a semi abstract work of undulating rhythmic line suggestive of curving breasts and arching hips. Like Trunk, a sculpture, it conveys movement and fluidity.

There are a number of works in the show that are inspired by seas and rivers. Pat Todd’s Surf’s Up and Silver Sail, two ceramics, are beautifully understated, striking and very contemporary. Todd blends different media in an innovative way to create texture, pattern, and depth, and her work is skilfully composed. Composition is also strong in Margaret Wyllie’s acrylic paintings of gulls. which include Breakwaters Going East Lane. Wyllie captures the vitality and playful audacity of these birds; and her palette is refreshing and bright. These are paintings that emanate joy. In contrast Delia Tournay-Godfrey’s works are very soulful. In To The Sea, oil and graphite on card, a lonely figure stands to the right of the image as if in deep contemplation. This is a small painting, as is Out To Sea, oil on muslin; a pared down picture of grey, green shades that seems to suggest life’s loneliness rather eloquently. Colin Slee’s acrylic on canvas paintings have a similarly muted palette, but are more impressionistic. Boatyard, and Marshland, two works, convey atmosphere through Slee’s skilful blending of paint to create hazy scenes through which subtle light is gently filtered.

I’ve mentioned just a small selection of the works in this diverse show. Do go along and select your own favourites. The delightful venue provides the perfect backdrop to this superb exhibition.

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Sonia Carvill

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