Wednesday, 6 February 2013

More Art in Wokingham

Popped into Wokingham town centre last Saturday as the word on the street is that the arts have a new premises in the centre, I wanted to see what some of the local artisans were showing and have an opportunity to 'buy local' as they say.  Thanks to 'The Cultural Partnerships: More Arts', a local charity that is championing cultural activities across the area, a group of applied artists and painters have set-up a temporary commercial gallery in an empty shop opposite the Town Hall, fittingly called 'The Saturday Gallery'.  It's fitting because the little boutique space is only open on Saturday's 9am to 5pm and though it's small, there is an amazing array of work for sale inside.  There are 8 artists participating in this temporary venture with the shop displaying a range of ceramics and jewellery, lampwork beads to rather fun decoupage furniture, and colourful paintings ranging from scenic to the abstract, some with a graphic design look and feel, many with reproduction prints and cards available.  I think this is a perfect little venue for shoppers in the area to find something original and beautiful, perfect for a special gift for a loved one or a decorative addition for the home.  I wish them every success and hope that this heralds a call for more small independent traders and original arts and crafts people to populate the town centre.

More Arts Saturday Gallery - Market Place

Moving on down to the quieter end of town I sought out the original 'More Arts' Gallery on Peach Street to visit the '20:20 Print Exchange' exhibition organised by Wokingham based artist-printmaker Sue Williams.  In 2009 Hot Bed Press in Salford and Red Hot Press in Southampton started this idea of artists creating an original print which measured 20cm square and were printed in an edition of 25.  All the prints from various groups are collated and redistributed randomly back to those who participate, every group receives a portfolio of 20 prints 'in exchange' from other printmakers.  Since 2009 this print exchange has expanded into a nationwide project involving 30 independent printrooms and 9,800 prints.  Ten artist-printmakers from Bracknell's South Hill Park Arts Centre Printroom participated this year, their work along with a selection of prints from their 'exchange' portfolio are on display in the gallery till the 17th February.

Printmaking, being a graphic art, lends itself to fine line drawing, subtle colours, and particularly the photographic image re-worked in almost a painterly manner.  The range of techniques on show were plenty, the level of skill high, and the subject matter varied. I was  moved by the image of a woman in old fashion dress rendered as a cyanotype print by Louise MacKenzie from Northern Print; captivated by the subtle, rich blacks in the wilted daffodil by local artist Stuart Skelsey using a Photopolymer Gravure print process. I couldn't do justice to the images in trying to photograph them through the framed glass but luckily, if you can't get in to Wokingham before the exhibition ends, you can see the full collection of this years exchange on this Flickr website, all 42 pages worth!  Just as the printmakers get prints returned 'randomly' for participating, visit the Flickr site and randomly select a page to see what printed images appear, fascinating!

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