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Art duo stages Aldeburgh exhibition and charity auction

PUBLISHED: 18:30 14 September 2020

Collaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh  Photo:Big Fish Photography

Collaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh Photo:Big Fish Photography

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Quirky art duo Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson are bringing more than a splash of colour to an international exhibition which they are hosting in Aldeburgh later this month.

Collaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh  Photo:Big Fish PhotographyCollaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh Photo:Big Fish Photography

The pair have been working collaboratively for the past year, often painting artworks jointly, to prepare for the exhibition and have also invited 33 artists to join them for the dramatic centrepiece installation.

This highly distinctive show entitled ‘To Begin at the Beginning’ marks their debut exhibition and will be held at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh from September 18-21.

The central exhibit includes paintings by artists who have influenced and inspired Mark and Michelle over the past year and includes both local and international artists. Each one has contributed a square painting measuring 60cm x 60cm.

It will be installed to resemble the social media platform Instagram, where the artist duo began their collaborative works, and where they have gained a following across the world.

Collaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh  Photo:Big Fish PhotographyCollaborative artists Michelle Bowden and Mark Sampson with their work which will form part of the 'To Begin at the Beginning' exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh Photo:Big Fish Photography

Michelle says: “The emphasis of this exhibition is the collective work of this community. The positivity, the energy and the inspiration found from these people have been a driving force in our artistic development. It’s only right to celebrate them.”

One of their latest works shows BLM hero Patrick Hutchinson carrying an unconscious white protestor to safety. The work was based on a photograph by photographer Dylan Martinez head of photography at London Reuters news agency.

Mark says: “Dylan loves our painting and how we represented the moment, but also Patrick Hutchinson loves it too. We painted it for Patrick for charity or for his grandkids or whatever he wants. He really would like to keep the painting for his historical collection but also wants to sell it to raise money for UTCAI, the charity that was formed to help bring people together and fight injustice and prejudice. So, we are going to paint him a second picture so he can have the two.”

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The painting will be exhibited along with one we are selling for charity for the Aldeburgh lifeboat and a large composition to raise money for the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS foundation.

Mark and Michelle’s collaborative process involves walking, observation, conversation and planning before they move into their studio to bring their ideas to life on canvas.

Mark says: “We discuss ideas whilst walking on the Suffolk coast and in woodlands. Various disruptive and surprising ideas are often thrown into the mix as we walk and talk. We try to pull those ideas together in our compositions. It’s a really fun way to work.”

Both artists have different technical strengths and sometimes opposing viewpoints. It means the resulting work becomes something that, individually, they couldn’t have created. The duo often film their works being created which they then share on Instagram.

The quirky duo will be exhibiting 23 of their own paintings plus the impressive centrepiece comprising works from Instagram artists across the world.

One of the artists invited to take part in the centrepiece exhibit is local artist Laura Beardsell-Moore. Laura says: “I am really excited to be taking part in this exhibition. Michelle and Mark have attracted some truly inspirational work by artists around the world and I feel privileged to be part of this collection. The exhibition centrepiece is a fantastic concept and a really interesting way to show how connections made in the digital world can come alive in reality.”

Michelle and Mark worked closely with Snape Maltings to organise the exhibition at the Peter Pears Gallery in Aldeburgh. Michelle says: “Snape Maltings has been a point of support and inspiration for us, not to mention a wonderful meeting place for a number of the artists celebrated within this exhibition.

“Spaces like the Peter Pears Gallery are at the heart of Suffolk’s cultural life and we hope this exhibition will offer visitors some inspiration and pleasure and also make them think.”

Three of the paintings created by Michelle and Mark will be silently auctioned during the course of the exhibition to raise money for three charities that are close to their hearts: The Aldeburgh Lifeboat Station, Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation and Patrick Hutchinson’s charity ‘United to Change and Inspire’.

‘To Begin at the Beginning’ runs from September 18-21 at the Peter Pears Gallery Aldeburgh. Open 10am-4pm daily.


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