March’s Featured Friend – Harry Bell

Harry Bell by his work in the Friends Summer Exhibition 2019

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:
I was born in 1947 and brought up in Gateshead, where I still live.

I’ve always drawn since the time I walked off with an assistant’s pencil stub from the Co-op when I was four and my Dad showed me how to draw cartoon spiders. My route to painting, however, was circuitous, involving several years detour into cartooning for the world of science fiction fanzines (I was Fan Guest of Honour at the World Science Fiction Convention in 1979).

In 1989 I began seriously to paint and, taking early retirement from the Civil Service in 1997, I began a BA (Hons) Fine Art course at Newcastle University, graduating in 2001. I’ve been a professional painter since then.

Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on the title page?
The paintings in the photograph are part of an occasional series based on found still life subjects. I love the careful, but often random arrangements of shoes, hats, bags and other holiday items set out in front of shops and stalls abroad. Given the chance, I like to draw them in my sketchbook (I’ve drawn an awful lot of rows of jars and cans in the Grainger Market) but usually this isn’t possible in the hot sun and busy streets where I find the stalls, so I rely on the photographs I have taken.

At home, I edit the photographs until I’m happy with the composition and even then, the painting itself will determine how closely I follow the original [photographic] source.

Are there any events/exhibitions upcoming that you’re particularly excited about?
I wish I could say so, but at the moment, apart from one or two regular club shows, I have no exhibitions lined up. I’m always on the lookout for opportunities but haven’t been very proactive in this respect in recent years.

Must do better!

What are you currently working on/planning to work on?
I’ve always been fascinated by the effects of time on surfaces, and a few months ago I began painting a series of paintings based on old doors I’ve photographed round the Mediterranean over the years.

I love the distressed paint work, rusted locks and handles of these doors, and using collage and acrylic gels has allowed me to work with the textures and relatively abstract compositions of the subject. From doors, I’ve moved on to walls with torn posters and broken brickwork and most recently, some parcels wrapped in crumpled brown paper.

Unwrapping John Piper by Harry BellUnwrapping John Piper – Mixed media on board, 30×30 cm

Who is your favourite artist and/or what is your favourite art movement?
I wrote my Dissertation on Graham Sutherland and his Pembrokeshire Landscapes and I’ve always loved the Neo-Romantic painters from Paul Nash to John Piper, John Minton, John Craxton and Keith Vaughan.

Someone once said that the ghost of Edward Hopper was sit ting on my shoulder because of my urban landscapes, and I have to say that I’ve never found him a heavy burden. But also across the Atlantic is Wayne Thiebaud, probably the greatest realist painter in the US. At 100 years of age, it’s astonishing that he’s never had a major exhibition in this country. I owe my interest in rows of hats and bags to his series of paintings of pies and cakes.

When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why?
I was a Friend for quite some years in the late 80s and early 90s, but lapsed, probably ironically when I went to University. I always found the social events, workshops, weekends away at Ford Castle and the opportunity to show my work in the main galleries (despite the dreadful lighting!) great fun.

I’ve yet to recapture that feeling since I rejoined [two? three?] years ago, mainly because of pressure on my available time.

What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?
Because, as I’ve said, I have limited time available, I’ve not been able to take part in many of FoTH’s events, but I do still enjoy the opportunity to show work, even in the limited space now granted to us, and the chance to meet other members at the preview.

You can see more of Stuart’s work on his website.

If you would like to  be our Featured Friend in a future issue , please email Tomke at FotHevents@gmail.com

December’s Featured Friend – Stuart Jones

Sturat Jones by his work in the Friends Summer Exhibition 2019

Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:
I’m an outdoor landscape painter which involves painting directly from life on location in the open air or ‘en plein air’, a French term coined by the Impressionists.  My passion for art was fostered throughout my education.  I did a foundation Fine Art course at Cleveland College of Art and Design, and then went on to do a BA Hons Fine Art Degree at Northampton University.

I moved back to the North East and worked as an Art Technician in a secondary school and decided to take a two year MA in Fine Art at Newcastle University.  This allowed me to experiment with my art practice though I ultimately turned back to my first love of drawing and painting after graduating.

I studied for a PGCE in Art and Design Education at Northumbria University and used these teaching skills as an Outreach Officer.  After several years of teaching workshops and delivering community projects, I decided to focus on my own art practice again.  My wife and I have two young children and I was able to work part-time, look after the children and pursue my passion for oil painting.

I couldn’t afford to rent an expensive studio and also felt that painting indoors didn’t offer enough excitement.  I wanted to feel inspired by the places around me and so resolved to work almost exclusively outdoors, working quickly to get some energy and life into my paintings.

Fishing at South Shields lighthouse - Stuart Jones
Fishing at South Shields Pier

Everytime there is something new to take your interest.  I love paining at the coast and it’s amazing how water can change its colour and appearance depending on the lighting conditions of the day.

Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on the title page?
This is a plein air painting created during the summer, called Haybales in a Field, Blyth.  I’d set up my equipment near a farmer’s field not far from the seafront promenade.  I was interested in the familiar sight of haybales sitting in a field, working with the seasons and responding to the subject matter at hand. I also enjoyed the way the light was catching the very tops of the bales and the swirling straw effect, which was painted using a hog bristle brush as it leaves wonderful linear marks through the paint.  Showing directional marks of the field and grasses, as well as hedges and a distant church helped provide a bit of context to the scene to tie it all together.

What are you currently working on/planning to work on?
Currently I’m responding to an open call exhibition for Northumberland: Magic and Myth at Woodhorn Museum so am hoping to submit a piece to this in the new year.

I’ve been heading into Northumberland making paintings in which trees play a supporting role to a main subject, as I wanted to capture the changing Autumn colours with the burnt oranges and yellows coming through.  With all the rain we’ve been having lately it has made it tricky to paint in oils and I have had to wipe a few boards that haven’t worked.  That’s all part of the experience of painting plein air though.

When the Winter arrives, I’m looking forward to painting snow scenes in some of the local parks and families playing in the snow.  It’s probably the only time of year when the ground appears as being a lighter value than the sky so it’s an interesting challenge observing and painting the various tints and chromatic whites.

Pavillion steps at Northumberland Park - Stuart Jones
Pavillion steps at Northumberland park

Are there any events/exhibitions upcoming that you’re particularly excited about?
I’m part of the group Winter Art Exhibition at Bistro Du Parc art café in Tynemouth from 22nd November 2019- 6th January 2020.  As well as having original plein air oil paintings available on show,  I’m also excited to offer limited edition archival quality prints for the first time.

Who is your favourite artist and/or what is your favourite art movement?
My favourite art movement has to be the Impressionists for their painterly brushwork and vivid use of colour.  I enjoy Camille Pissarro and British plein air artists like David Curtis ROI RSMA and cityscape painter Peter Brown.  I recently saw the work of Spanish artist Joaquin Sorolla at the National Gallery in the exhibition Sorolla: Spanish Master of Light.  His seascapes and ability to capture light on white fabric in his paintings were truly breathtaking and very inspiring.

When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why?
I became a Friend of the Hatton after graduating from Newcastle University in 2007/08 and again in around 2016.  I felt having studied on the MA Fine Art course at Newcastle I wanted to continue having a link with the university and supporting the gallery that had displayed my work in the final degree show.  It’s a great way to meet fellow artists in Friends of the Hatton and attend exhibitions by members.  I think it’s important to be part of and actively support the arts community in Newcastle so that it grows for the benefit of new members and audiences.

What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?
I think it’s great we have access to learning opportunities as part of the group and are able to listen to presentations by staff, artists and lecturers about the exhibitions that the Hatton Gallery showcases.  I also think having the opportunity to share your work in group exhibitions is an extremely positive part of being a member as it adds value to the group’s activity as being one that is engaged, active and is a champion for the visual arts to students and the public alike.

You can see more of Stuart’s work on his website.

If you would like to  be our Featured Friend in a future issue , please email Tomke at FotHevents@gmail.com

This issue’s Featured Friend – Sue Brophy

Sue Brophy by her work in the Friends Summer Exhibition 2019

Q: Sue, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:
A: I was educated in Thirlmere, Keswick, Penrith and Carlisle and went to Art College in 1960. I chose a four year National Diploma in Design, my subjects were printed and woven textiles. This course included a thorough grounding in observational drawing. On leaving college I lived in Finland where I taught English to a family of 4 children. I absorbed the Finn’s love of design and simple glasswork.

I married in 1966, had 2 sons, worked in a preschool and then for over 20 years, as a teaching auxiliary in paediatric wards of Queen Elizabeth Hospital Gateshead. The teacher and I worked at the bedside, wards and in the classroom. I worked in all sorts of crafts, with sick children (to 16), their parents. A job I loved, of reassurance and encouragement through play.

In my early 50s I became a cutter and polisher in Jane Charles’ Studio Glass, working with industrial machine processes, I sold her work at trade fairs and also made my own hot glass work twice a year. Whilst working for with Jane, I started my own hand painted silks and kiln formed glass jewellery designs selling in the UK Japan and Australia.

Eventually retiring, I found a huge pleasure in drawing of all sorts, in many media – I’ve never thought of drawing as just line – more an expression of ideas. Pastel, lino= drawing with a sharp tool, felting= drawing with wools, printing, especially monoprinting= drawing with inks — a special favourite.

Q: Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on the title page?
A: The pictures in the exhibition are “Dove Crag” and “Fairy Well”, in Harbottle woods, an area walked many times and loved for the geology. They’re worked on coloured paper, with water colour wash as a base, then pastels and pencils. I never use a white base except for printing occasionally.

Q: What are you currently working on/planning to work on?
A: At the moment I’m working on a number of lino cuts of Northumberland, printed in black and white, and larger felt and stitched pieces for an exhibition next year.

Q: Are there any events/exhibitions that you’re excited about?
A: At the moment, Halima Cassell, a ceramicist, has an exhibition in Manchester called “Virtues of Unity”. Geometric designs in unglazed clay – some clays sent to her from all over the world.

And in Edinburgh an exhibition of great interest “Cut and Paste” 400 years of collage!

Q: Who is your favourite artist or favourite art movement?
A: I do not have a favourite artist but find myself more and more drawn to work, of any medium that depicts the seasons and texture of light, uplands and open spaces.

Q: When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why? What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?
A: Joining FotH about 10 years ago was a revelation. Really interesting and often challenging lectures and rewarding, helpful practical Saturday schools.

Caroline Coode is this issue’s Featured Friend

Caroline Coode by her work in the Friends Summer Exhibition 2019

Q: Caroline, please tell us a little bit about yourself and your passion for art:

A: I often made little cards for my mother when I was quite young but was not a compulsive ‘scribbler’. As an adult I went to local adult art classes. Eventually to art college age 45 and specialised in printmaking. I graduated at 50! 

 

Q: Can you tell us more about the artwork featured on this page?

A: These are conte and pencil drawings of the kind I make on the spot for a travel journal. Sometimes these get used as reference for a collagraph or wood engraving

 

Q: What are you currently working on/planning to work on?

A: I have an ongoing project about my allotment. It is a large ‘map’ – mixed media piece. I will make a set of small ‘ books’  about some  individual vegetables and fruits, with printed elements, to accompany this. Also a set of small wood engravings about Castlerigg Stone circle which may also be a concertina book.

 

Q: Are there any events/exhibitions upcoming that you’re particularly excited about?

A: I have quite a lot of work in The Biscuit Factory summer show [open till august 25] My one paper sculpture ‘Bumblebees and Beans’ in an exhibition called ‘Seeking Routes’.. That is at the Quaker house Swarthmoor Hall  in Ulverston, Cumbria and is supported by the Quaker Arts Network. Open until September 8th.

 It is accompanied by other activities throughout the open period.

 

Q: Who is your favourite artist and/or what is your favourite art movement?

A: Impressionists and wood engravers!

 

Q: When did you become a Friend of the Hatton Gallery and why?

A: I think about1995, after I moved to Newcastle from Surrey. I needed to find a group to be involved with. I was chair from 1998 to 2005.

 

Q: What is your favourite part of being a Friend of the Hatton Gallery?

A: Meeting like minded people and sharing ideas.