Town Hall Arts Open Exhibition Prize Winners Review
Review by Adele Matterface
Trowbridge arts are currently showing an exhibition of work by their 2017 Open Season prize winners, judged by Peter Riley (curator of the Young Gallery) and members of the Trowbridge Arts team. The exhibition is a showcase of local talent which displays sculptures, paintings, collages, jewellery and drawings and is being displayed in both the main gallery and the Clerk’s room.
First prize went to Ceramicist Ali Brown. Brown won the prize for her piece Sputnik. Her process involves foraging, rewiring and repairing and her inspiration comes from reimagining new life and memory. The pieces on display from her collection are made of porcelain and metal worked into organic shapes and presented on wooden boards. Teeth and vertebrae feature prominently. The skill involved in creating such realistic looking pieces is highly impressive as the porcelain shapes which Brown has made are virtually indistinguishable from real bone. On one piece, engraved in metal, are the words ‘Pale lemon sun dips towards the far horizon heading north towards winter’, a beautiful poetic phrase which compliments her work perfectly. On her blog, Ali wrote that she ‘deliberately kept the display simple, enabling the work to be looked at closely, not to overwhelm the viewer with too much information.’
The second prize went to contemporary landscape artist Nick Andrew, who won the award for his piece Torquea, a picture painted on the bank of the river Wylye near Crockerton, Wiltshire. Andrews work comes from observing changes in the seasons and from day to day. He describes his process as involving painting, drawing, photography and note taking. The landscapes on display from his collection are bold and striking, painted in autumn colours and featuring the contrast between land and water. One of the most impressive things about Andrew’s work is that although they all contain the same subjects, they contain wildly different interpretations of them.
Robin Shelton, a Jewellery artist who submitted collages, impressed the judges so much that they created The ‘Judges Prize’ to commend him for his work. For inspiration, Robin considers the ideas of loss, rediscovery, and the balance of memory. The collages on display for the exhibition are highly detailed and feature a selection of technical drawings, photographs, sketches and paint. His work combines natural imagery, such as a sketch of a feather or a painting of the ocean with the manmade – tools such as shovels and hammers. Shelton’s collages are not the kind of work you can absorb with one glance, although they are aesthetically pleasing. They are designed to be explored, and on close inspection, it is possible to discover new aspects and deeper meaning the more you look at them.
I thoroughly enjoyed looking at this exhibition and was struck by the diverse styles and the level of skill involved with creating the pieces on display. Although I loved all the work, my personal favourite was Nick Andrews painting Fillpenda, another stunning interpretation of the river Wylye painted from a different location. Fillpenda is a highly detailed rendition painted with rich colours and bold strokes. Despite the image capturing a windy day, I found it surprisingly calming to look at.
The exhibition started on the 6th January and will run to the 17th February and will be open for public viewing on Monday to Saturdays. If you can’t make it to the exhibition please check out Ali Brown’s blog at https://alibrown2.wordpress.com/category/ceramics/ , Nick Andrews website at nickandrew.co.uk and Robin Shelton’s at robinshelton.co.uk.
Review by Adele Matterface