Tag Archive: Oswestry art

Inside Out at Oswestry Library

"Discovered Poem" - Will Ashford, via: http://www.willashford.com

“Discovered Poem” – Will Ashford, via: http://www.willashford.com

Here’s another exhibition opportunity for Inside Out Artists: Oswestry Library has no booking for the last three weeks of January in their first floor display space, and have asked Inside Out if they can fill it at short notice.

Anyone with any works they’d like to exhibit at the library for the next three weeks please get in touch immediately: and bring your work to my studio by 11am THIS FRIDAY, January 11th. Work received after then can’t be included in the exhibition, sorry.

Apologies for the short notice – hope some of you can still make the deadline!

Inside Out at Radio Cafe

Radio Signals [1], John Swogger, 2012

Signals [1], John Swogger, 2012

Radio Cafe has asked if any Inside Out artists would be interested in exhibiting works in the cafe. There’s a great deal of wall space available for artworks, and the cafe is particularly looking for bright, interesting prints. As the cafe is a place where food is cooked, it would best suit works behind glass.

If anyone’s interested, I’ll be gathering works this week to put up at the weekend, so get in touch via the usual email addresses or in a reply to this post and bring your work to my studio in The Cambrian Studios Building this week.

Do we want a “local arts centre”?

Artists impression of how a new Local Arts Centre in Oswestry probably won’t look. (Syd Mead)

The Oswestry Advertiser has expressed some interest in running a story in an upcoming edition based on my blog post last week: Local Arts Centre for Oswestry? They think it’s an idea that the Council might be interested in. I suggested to them that if that’s the case, it should be incorporated into the Oswestry 2020 project – and approached with some caution.

There is a problem with the arts in Oswestry. Just about everyone is agreed that the arts are “a good thing”, and that they should be “encouraged” and that they can “contribute” to Oswestry’s social, cultural and economic wellbeing/growth – but no one can agree just what any of that actually means. Does “encouraged” mean funded? Does “contribute” mean pay its way? As the Oswestry 2020 planning gets underway, these phrases are being repeated and not defined.

I think there’s a lot of great art happening in and around Oswestry, but I also think it lacks focus, and a lot of great events and exhibitions are going by without much notice. Initiatives such as “Art In And Around Oswestry” (Jas Davidson/BVA) have tried to address this, as has this blog. Shops around the Bailey Head have also contributed window space for impromptu art/culture noticeboards. A local arts centre of some description may help to provide this kind of focus.

But a local arts centre – whether an actual place or just the hub of a network – can only really work if it responds to the actual day-to-day needs of people involved with art, whether local artists/crafters, art students, people teaching or taking art courses, school groups, or people who just like to look at art.

If discussion about a “local arts centre” is going to go any further – into the Advertiser, to the Council, etc. – perhaps one of the most useful things we can contribute at the moment is answers to the following two questions:

What would you want from a local arts centre?

What would a local arts centre be able to provide that places like the Qube, The Willow Gallery, Oswestry Heritage Gallery, Chicken Gallery, etc. can’t or don’t?

Exhibition space? Working space? A good cafe? An arts library? A shop? Visiting exhibition space? Information boards? Or would an arts centre simply be a waste of time and effort – should we just make the most of the facilities that we have at the moment?

Local Arts Centre for Oswestry?

Girl With the Yellow Scarf – Bekah Ash, 2011. Iowa City Public Library Art Purchase Prize winner. via ipcl.org

Oswestry Library already does an excellent job of bringing art into the town and making it accessible and highly visible. Every month, there’s a new exhibition by the BVA in the library’s foyer, and an exhibition of local artists’ work in the main room upstairs.

Recently, there’s been much hand-wringing in the local arts world as the government’s cuts to local arts funding really begin to bite. Since 2008, local arts funding has dropped by almost 40%By 2020, under current plans, local arts funding will have dropped by close to 90%meaning that even very basic publically-funded support for local arts events, projects and initiatives will have all but vanished.

I came across this article from last year by the former Education Secretary, Estelle Morris. She argues that local arts and culture provision needs to amalgamate in order to survive – that local museums, libraries and arts centres must band together and share resources and funding. I couldn’t help thinking of Oswestry. Wouldn’t it be great if the library – already so supportive of the local arts – could become a vibrant local arts and culture centre? Jeanette Winterson has argued that local libraries need to reinvent themselves if they are to survive the next ten years – I’d say that Oswestry Library is an example of the direction local libraries should be heading.

In the United States, local and public libraries use all sorts of art-events – from prizes and competitions to workshops, drop-in events, demonstrations and classes – to keep their libraries centres for the local visual arts. What about doing more things like this in Oswestry Library?

Maybe, instead of simply thinking of the library as somewhere to hang our work, all us local artists could start brainstorming about ways to make the library the local arts centre Oswestry could really do with.


Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade: sustainable development for marginalised producers, workers and their communities, based on ideals of equity and transparency.

Did you know that Oswestry was declared a Fairtrade Town  in 2006 and 2007? I must admit, I didn’t.

But the truth is that Oswestry has a lot of small, independent retailers (and big supermarkets) who actively stock Fairtrade foods and goods. Some of the cafes in Oswestry make a point of only serving Fairtrade tea and coffee.

A few weeks ago wondered on this blog if anyone was interested in doing a small Art Works project to do with the shops in Oswestry that stock Fairtrade products. Well, it turns out that the two weeks between Monday, February 25 and Sunday, March 10th next year is Fairtrade Fortnight – a two-week long festival across Britain dedicated to raising awareness of Fairtrade products and the Fairtrade ideal. Following my blog post two weeks ago, the Oswestry Advertiser got in touch and said that they would be very interested in following any art project Inside Out might do relating to Fairtrade in Oswestry.

So, what about it? Is anyone interested in putting together a series of Fairtrade-inspired artworks perhaps for exhibition in and around Fairtrade shops in Oswestry during Fairtrade Fortnight in 2013?

I’d certainly be up for this – and we can coordinate both with The Fairtrade Foundation‘s national campaign as well as initiatives and events run by the Oswestry and District Fairtrade Group. Anyone else who’s interested, post a comment to the blog – or come along to next month’s Notebook Meeting at the Willow Gallery (Wed., Nov. 7th at 2pm) and we can have a brief chat about it then.

The Qube Wants You!

Talk to the Qube

Don’t forget: the Qube in Oswestry is looking for ideas from artists. The Trustees – via Clive Wilson – would like to know what kind of services artists would like from the Qube, and how their gallery and teaching spaces could be better used.

Any ideas you have, send them to the Qube via their website, or via us here at the blog. This is our opportunity to help have our say in what the Qube does and how it goes about doing it.

Aidan Hart at Rowanthorn

Archangel Michael – detail from an icon by Aidan Hart. via http://www.aidanharticons.com

The golden work of Shropshire-based icon painter and sculptor Aidan Hart have been featured at Rowanthorn on Beatrice St. in Oswestry for several months now, but this weekend was the first time I’d been in there for a proper look. Mike Coppick gave me a brief tour of the icons by Aidan Hart he has up for sale – small-scale reproductions made – appropriately enough – near Mt. Athos, in Greece.

Aidan Hart is member of the Orthodox Church and has been painting professionally for Orthodox churches across the world since the early 1980s. He is founder and tutor to the Diploma in Icon and Wall Painting run by The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts, London. His spiritual training has included two years spent on Mount Athos in Greece, primarily studying at the Holy Monastery of Iviron.

Mike has assembled a fantastic collection of reproductions for sale. These are beautifully done, preserving the rich colours and delicate linework of Aidan’s traditional technique. But there is a twist: many of the icons for sale feature English and Welsh saints, like St. David and St. Melangell. 

Stop in for a look next time you’re in Oswestry – for the icons; for the inspiration! The wall of icons has already prompted me to start on a new work – Stasis – which I’ll be exhibiting in Rowanthorn in the New Year as part of our ongoing Art Works partnership.

Marja’s Mural

Brightening up the Bailey Head.

Freja was lucky enough to catch Marja putting the final touches to her mural on the rear of The George.

Perfectly timed for the oncoming autumn – it makes you want to curl up by a fire with a glass of something nice, some good company – possibly a cat or two… It’s the kind of mural that should warm you up even when the weather’s doing it’s worst. Thanks, Marja!

I’m not sure if there’s going to be any kind of official opening – anyone know? In any case, stop by the Bailey Head this weekend and have a look!

Clearwater mural by fine artist Ana Livingston – Tampa Bay (Clearwater) Florida. via http://analivingston.wordpress.com/

Florida muralist Ana Livingston has been following our Inside Out blog for a while now, and I thought it was high time we sent you over to her site to have a look at the fantastic murals she’s been painting in Clearwater, Florida.

Her Clearwater mural is a big, bold, bright piece – so very Florida! There’s a great gallery of the progress of the work here.

Oswestry’s own Cambrian railway mural, put up on the side wall of the old Woolworth’s has proven extremely popular. Now that the town’s getting another one in the form of Marja’s mural on The George, there’s more mural work in Oswestry than I ever thought there would be.

Is Oswestry secretly acquiring a unique art identity as a Town of Murals? Maybe we could do a muralist-exchange programme: someone could go to Clearwater, Florida and paint a mural of Oswestry in the rain, and Ana could come to Oswestry and slap a bit of that Florida sunshine on the Market Hall!

Second Tattoo

Japanese-style peony – my second tattoo.

Just finished my second-ever tattoo at Fine Line in Oswestry. Still on artificial skin – can’t get working on real people until I go through all the health and safety checks, and fill out all the proper paperwork, etc. Still, having great fun getting to grips with this completely new medium. It’s not often I think we get the chance to immerse ourselves not only in a completely new medium, but in a completely new kind of art practice. It’s not just that tattooing is a different medium to painting or pen-and-ink – the whole business of it, the method and studio practice, and the relationship with ones audience/clients is completely different as well. Talking at the last notebook meeting, I think the closest it may come to is portraiture – a unique and intimate partnership between subject and artist.

Next week I won’t be tattooing, but will be back in school, as it were. I’ll be sitting in on a session, watching Rena tattoo – but instead of sitting there sketching, I’ll be taking notes on her technique, and she’ll be talking me through what she’s doing and why. Now that I understand something of the language of the different needles one uses, the different types of grey shading and the different colours of ink, I can begin to really appreciate the technique behind the art. I won’t be seeing the tattoo studio as a place to do life-drawing – but a place to learn something completely new. And it’s not just me who’s learning new things. Today I showed Stuart a few graphic tricks for aligning things like stars for a tattoo stencil. Some of my skills as an artist and an illustrator absolutely transfer over into the tattoo studio, opening up new design possibilities for them.

Anyway, to coin a phrase, I’m having a blast. Anyone interested in reading about today in more detail should hop over to my own blog. I know I forgot to bring my artificial skins to the last notebook meeting, but I promise I’ll bring them all next month for you to have a look at.

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