24-26 August 2013
Saturday, 24 August 2013
24-26 August 2013
Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Work, Rest & Play in Bridport
Every day I cycle to my studio at St Michael’s Studios to continue work on my large-scale landscape paintings inspired by the surrounding countryside. Each piece typically takes six to eight months to complete, so I only create a few paintings a year. It’s quite a challenging way to work, but I think it’s important to strive for excellence and to try to create works that will stand the test of time.
As you can see in the image above, 15 St Michael's artists are taking part in a 4 day Open Studios event over the Easter Bank Holiday, 6-9 April. I also now open my studio every Saturday from 11-4pm, so do drop in if you're in Bridport for our great Saturday Market!
I’m foremost an artist, but these days I’m also kept busy with a number of community projects. As co-Chair of the Spirit of Bridport I’m helping to organise our first “Festival of Culture”, which will celebrate the best of Bridport’s Music, Food, Heritage and the Arts from 11-27 August 2012. I’m also deeply involved in Enterprise St Michael’s, a community-led project set up to safe-guard Bridport’s much-loved Art & Vintage Quarter.
I grew up in rural north Dorset, and moved to London in the 90’s, where I established myself as an Abstract painter. I came on holiday to west Dorset in 1998 and chanced upon a remarkable community of artists living in an old rectory in Symondsbury, just outside Bridport. Within a month I’d left London and moved in. The following year I moved my studio to a warehouse in Bridport, on the St Michael’s Trading Estate. Other artists soon joined me and we now have 25 artists in the St Michael’s Studios complex.
Bridport is now recognised as having one of the most vibrant art scenes in the country and in 2010 I produced a book “Portrait of the Artist – 25 Bridport Painters & Sculptors”, with photographer George Wright and writer Lu Orza. I’m also deputy director of Bridport Open Studios and over 100 artists take part in our annual August event, including both established names and emerging talent. There are also a number of well-respected local galleries including Sladers Yard in West Bay, Artwave West in Morecomelake and the Pierrepoint Gallery in Bridport.
One of the great things about Bridport is its enterprising community, and this is most apparent on the St Michael’s Trading Estate, which has been an industrial estate for over 150 years, providing vital employment for the town. Alongside the art studios there are dozens of small businesses, a discount retail park and a growing Art & Vintage Quarter. This has become one of the best loved attractions in Bridport, cherished by the locals and bringing in thousands of visitors to monthly Vintage Markets. A recent attempt by the owners to replace it with a housing estate has met with fierce local opposition, and has led us to form “Enterprise St Michael’s”, a non-profitmaking organisation that hopes to buy the estate and allow the community build on its current success.
I joke that I have to go to London to relax, but it’s true! My life in Bridport is now so busy that I have to get away, and I love to spend 2 or 3 days in London, visiting galleries, enjoying the buzz of the city and seeing old friends.
I also meditate every day. I find it’s vital when we live such busy lives. It’s a kindness we can easily give our bodies, as you only need to set aside 15 minutes a day to release all of the stress and tension from your body. It’s also creatively stimulating and helps clarify my thoughts. I also enjoy cycling and we have a great local Aikido club.
I love Café culture and we’re really spoilt for choice in West Dorset. I often have lunch at the amazing Red Brick Café in the Art & Vintage Quarter and once a week I meet my brother and friends for lunch at the Bull Hotel. I also love to watch the sun set over the sea from the Ellipse Café in West Bay and eat at the Hive Beach Café in West Bexington. I’m now really looking forward to the newly refurbished Café Royal in Bridport - which is about to re-launch as a retro-diner!
The great thing about being an artist is that I get to play at what I most enjoy doing every day. I particularly love just being in my studio, but my ‘work’ also takes me out into the countryside to walk, draw & paint, and take photographs. One of my favourite places is Lewesdon Hill, and I often paint the magnificent views across the Marshwood Vale, as seen through the ancient beech trees.
I was asked to do the "Work, Rest & Play" profile for next months Dorset Magazine feature on Bridport, but to cut a long story short... the deadline was too close for me, so they've decided to do a big Bridport feature in the August issue instead. Of course it's great Blog material, so I've found time to finish writing the article.
Friday, 20 January 2012
"View from Eggardon Hill across West Dorset and the sea", oil on linen, 100x40cm
"View from North Bowood, looking South across the Marshwood Vale, hills block the sea", oil on linen, 100x40cm
"View across the Marshwood Vale from just north of Salwayash", oil on linen, 100x40cm
Tuesday, 23 August 2011
Bank Holiday Open Studios
A dozen artists based at St Michael's Studios in Bridport's Art & Vintage Quarter are opening their studios to the public over the August Bank Holiday weekend from Saturday 27 to Monday 29 August.
Started in 1999, St Michael's Studios has established Bridport as one of the most exciting artistic communities in the West Country, providing work and exhibition space for a remarkable mix of award-winning painters, sculptors, illustrators, designers and photographers.
Open Studio events are designed to bring the public into the artists workplace, get a feeling for the creative process and maybe even a glimpse into the mind of the artist. You'll find a wide variety of art on show, from well-known names, to emerging artists and keen new-comers. So whatever your taste in art, we're sure you'll find something to enjoy.
Participating artists include Kit Glaisyer, Caroline Ireland, David Brooke, Andrew Leppard, John Boyd, Annalisa Renee, Jan Zajac, Lisa Clement, Caroline Moore, Marion Taylor, Sally Davies, Marion Irons and Jemma Thompson.
The public are also welcome to attend the Launch Party for St Michael's Open Studios that takes place at the Studios on Friday 26 August from 6.30 to 9pm.
For more information visit www.stmichaelsstudios.com
Thursday, 4 August 2011
No room for Vintage Quarter in new St Michael's plans
This weekend saw another of the hugely popular Vintage Markets, a nostalgic mix of antiques, clothes and food, that takes place every month on the St Michael's Trading Estate. The event draws in hundreds of visitors to Bridport, many from as far as Brighton and London, all excited to have found a town that still understands the value of it's community.
All this could disappear if new development plans by the owners of the trading estate get the go-ahead. The plans, which were put on public display for just one day last week, propose removing half of the historic industrial estate to make way for a new housing estate. The problem is there's no room for the Vintage Quarter in the new plans, and there would also be a significant reduction in the number of small businesses currently based there.
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Stakeholder Proposal Rejected
Earlier this year a working group led by Bridport Town Council invited the Haywards to form a Stakeholders group with tenant representatives from St Michael's Trading Estate. It was suggested this group could work alongside the architects to make sure that any new development would protect local businesses and also be sympathetic to the existing character of the area. However, the Haywards rejected this offer, and their architects seem to have disregarded the far-reaching appeal of the Vintage Quarter.
Many local jobs at risk
It also appears that the new plans have the tacit support of the West Dorset District Council Planning Department, and many tenants on the estate are angered that their local Planning Department seem to favour a massive private housing development instead of protecting the jobs of dozens of the most vulnerable small businesses. Indeed, the employment provided by the St Michael's Trading Estate is vital to the economic prosperity of Bridport as a whole, and surely a priority in the current economic climate.
New plans are bad for local economy
The tenants say that if they had been allowed to help design the new plans as part of a Stakeholders group, then they would have concentrated on making more low cost business units available - as every available space on the estate is currently taken, and there is always demand for more. They also point out that the Art & Vintage Quarter is now one of the most thriving areas of Bridport and that any new plans should be building on what's already working. One tenant commented "If the plans are to really benefit the town, then they should increase the number of business and light-industrial units - creating more employment for the town - rather than losing valued industrial space to a short-sighted residential development."
Our Latin Quarter is a great asset to Bridport
In fact the Art & Vintage Quarter seems to have hit a winning formula in recent years, with a vibrant mix of art studios, antiques shops and small businesses that is now widely recognised as a key cultural centre in the West Country. Indeed, the area is now seen as an important asset to Bridport's wider reputation, both in terms of the creative industries that it nurtures and the number of new visitors it brings to the town.
A community-led regeneration
The success of the Art & Vintage Quarter is largely the result of the hard work of a diverse community of enterprising and imaginative people, who have brought about a grass-roots regeneration of the former rope-making estate. The key seems to have been the coming together of a number of elements that appeal to the discerning eye of the cultural tourist - a bohemian cocktail of art, food and commerce: first there's the creative discoveries to be make while exploring the rabbit-warren of art studios in the long Edwards building, followed by a ramble through the various antiques and vintage stalls down by the river, leading to some delicious home-cooked delights in the Red Brick 'community' Cafe.
Low cost units have helped small businesses
This community-led regeneration of the trading estate has only been possible because of the many affordable premises available on the estate for start-ups and small businesses. The St Michael's Trading Estate has - for a long time - been a vital source of low-rent space for low-income workers in the creative industries - including traditional crafts such as carpentry, masonry and upholstery. It has also provided a base for the remarkable melting-pot of designers, architects and artists that has established St Michael's Studios as one of the most respected art centres in the West Country.
In fact, the trading estate has been a vital starting point for many businesses, including Top Gear - founded in 1984 as a small car accessory shop - and the Clipper Teas - winner of Great Taste Awards in 2010. Currently there's also the Centre for Local Food - which provides meals for many local schools, the Trick Factory - an indoor bicycle park, the popular Red Brick Cafe, Wessex Wines, Discount Timber, Bridport Glass & Tiles, TLC - a community recycling organisation, Crawford's Classic Car repairs, a Vintage Van repairer, PNC - industrial fabricators, and dozens of other small businesses.
Bridport's unique character at risk
In 2009 a previous development proposal for St Michael's Trading Estate proved to be hugely controversial for the town, pitting the local community against the West Dorset District Council - who had made a joint planning application with Haywards. Those plans were overwhelmingly rejected by local people, who felt that they ignored the unique character of the town and also put at risk the dozens of small businesses based on the trading estate.
The biggest fear though is what else might happen if these new plans are approved. One of the main intentions of the new plan is to change of use of the site from Industrial to the much more lucrative Mixed-use consent. If the development plan is approved then this would greatly increase the value of the land, and some believe that Haywards would then simply sell the site to another developer. This new developer might then decide to evict all the current tenants, and then submit a new plan for an even larger residential development. This would effectively end Bridport's hard-won cultural quarter and shatter this unique community.
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Monday, 18 July 2011
I've recently updated my own website, with images of new works, and also a 136 image video of the making of "Lewesdon Tree".
These days I open my studio to the public every Saturday from 11 to 4pm, and I'm joined on the first Saturday of the month by Caroline Ireland and David Brooke, who open their studio next door.
We're now preparing for our next BIG open studios, when at least a dozen artists will take part, due to take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend, that's Sat 27 to Mon 29 August, from 10 to 5pm daily. Visit www.stmichaelsstudios.com for more information.
Saatchi times two
Guardian Feature on Charles Saatchi
Charles Saatchi has remade the British art market three times, most famously by championing young British artists such as Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. But was he lucky or did he have true vision? And more importantly can he do it again?
Also, art critic Brian Sewell writes in the Evening Standard on Charles Saatchi's influence on art...
Malcolm McLuhan - The Medium is the Message / Massage
Also check out this McLuhan project, ABC Pool, a creative, collaborative platform for creating and sharing media, that has hunted down some rare, never-before-released ABC Archival footage of Marshall McLuhan from his 1977 visit to Australia and published it under a Creative Commons license.
The Hobbit Video Diary
And in the latest behind-the-scenes clip (which was filmed in part back in June) from the set of The Hobbit, Jackson, along with his tirelessly working cast and crew (it will take a scheduled 254 days to shoot both films) discussed what they’ll be doing with their, well, summer vacation. Gandalf himself, Sir Ian McKellan will be heading back to London, natch, to appear in a play, while Andy Serkis, who is pulling double duty on this project both playing Gollum and taking on the duties of a second unit director (“I’ve crossed over to the dark side,” he joked) will enjoy time off with family. Most of the cast and crew is set to return to New Zealand by Monday, September 5.
Video - Blu, grafitti artist
Wired Italy has just posted the full documentary on Blu, "Megunica," that follows the artist through Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica, and Argentina. After the busy year that Blu has had, painting numerous murals solo and with collaborators like Ericailcane, this is just another fantastic product from a continually interesting and provocative artist.
Art Dealers critique of the Art World
Interview with Michael Werner on Artnet.com, he is one of the most influential gallery owners in the world. Together with artists such as Georg Baselitz, Markus Lüpertz, A.R. Penck and Jörg Immendorff, he assisted in bringing international acclaim to new German art, which today is represented by great painting and high prices. But it was not always this way: in 1963 he caused outrage in his Berlin gallery on the Kurfürstendamm by exhibiting the famous Baselitz painting Die große Nacht im Eimer (The Big Night Down the Drain), which depicts a boy masturbating.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
* First of all I must invite you to the Official Launch of Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios, taking place from 6:30 to 9pm on Thursday 19 May in the Ballroom at the Bull Hotel, along with a selection of art from participating artists in a show called 6"x9" - which is the size of works that each artist has submitted.
* The actual Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios event starts this Saturday 21 and continues to the following Bank Holiday Monday 30 May.
The event has been brought forward from August this year, and extended in lengh, taking place over 10 days. You can see a couple of examples of my recent works on my BOS page.
As if that wasn't enough, there are a number of brilliant exhibitions on in West Dorset, including -
* The " 2x2x2" exhibition at the Bridport Arts Centre, showing the work of painters Wendy Poole and Alastair Barford... (two videos on these artists below)
* That exhibition changes the following week, and will be showing two new artists - Jollyon Carter and Alice Jones.
"This May Bridport Arts Centre launches a new slot for emerging visual artists from Bridport and around the region. 2x2x2 will feature two artists sharing the Allsop Gallery, for two weeks, twice. Both exhibitions will offer audiences fresh, new ideas from artists who are exploring and developing their practice. For some this will be their first gallery show." Polly Gifford, BAC Director
* Another brilliant exhibition has just opened at Sladers Yard, West Bay, showing a range of paintings by Robin Rae and Alex Lowery.
* Meanwhile, at Artwave West, in Morecombelake, there's a group show, including local artists Jon Adam and Boo Mallinson.
More information about these shows:
Arist Wendy Poole at the Bridport Arts Centre
Wendy Poole is showing a mini-retrospective of her work at the Bridport Arts Centre as part of the "2x2x2" exhibition. She is a remarkable talent, highly recommended!
Artist Alastair Barford at Bridport Arts Centre
At just 23 years old, Alastair is definately a talent to watch. This highly accomplished series of paintings will travel down to Falmouth for Alastair's Fine Art Degree Show in early June.
Finally, here's a video of George Shaw, Turner Prize nominee, talking about his work at the Baltic Centre for Creative Art.