Exhibitions Reviews 2005

BURBAGE ART GROUP - Annual Exhibition

Rachel Slaney

Burbage Institute, Saturday 23rd July

It was worth the walk from Buxton to Burbage to see the display of the Art that had been produced by the Art Group that meets weekly in the Burbage Institute hall. They had obviously been very busy all year and the display was considerably better this year than last. The pictures were displayed horizontally on tables and two rows vertically on three sides of the room and on display screens down the centre of the room. The pictures were neatly titled and the artists named. I was pleasantly surprised that the standard was generally high and there were some very fine pieces. There was a wide range of subjects, mainly realistic but some abstract, and a variety of media and techniques.

Many of the group were present talking to the visitors. The only male member of the group was serving the tea and cakes. I had noticed a picture of his with dinosaurs in a prehistoric setting with two flying saucers entitled "Too early for the War of the Worlds". His other works contained similar humour. The work by the child in the group was not so prominently displayed which was a shame as that reflects the willingness of the group to encourage members whatever their ability and age.

The group had also prepared a quiz for children, clues of pictures to look for, for example "A sleepy cat" referred to a picture labelled "Cat Nap". I saw one young boy earnestly seeking them out and he received a certificate when he had completed finding all those on the list.

I am not local to Buxton so I walked out to Burbage along St Johns Road as shown on THE MAP in the FRINGE programme and had to ask my way to the hall. I was able to find a pleasanter route back along a path by a stream that took me back to the park. For another year, it would be helpful to have a map available at the Fringe Desk and some indication of distance and the time required to walk there.

Carolyn Page

Another Review

The Burbage Art Group goes from strength to strength and their annual exhibition is a great opportunity to catch up with their work. Though the quality of the items on display does vary the overall standard is high and it was a pleasure to spend a half hour browsing in the friendly venue of the Burbage Institute.

With a dozen or so artists displaying their work there is much variety with subjects from elderberries to dinosuars in media from oils to ceramics and even tea-bags! There really was something for everyone.

This alone would have made it worth the trip but there was more - many of the artists themseleves were present and quite willing to chat about their works. There was also a competition for kids who had to find a list of items among the pictures. I did this with my 10 year old daughter, Annie, and it was a lot of fun - it also got us to look even more closely at the works of art and definitely deepened the experience. I am now the proud holder of a Certificate applauding my powers of observation and tenacity.

Oh and free cakes (many home-made) and pots of tea just finished off beautifully a hugely pleasurable visit!

Dan Osborne

BUXTON MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY - Collectors and Collections: Randolph Douglas and the House of Wonders

Buxton Museum - Houdini from Randolph Douglas exhibition

Buxton Museum and Art Gallery.

Randolph Douglas was a collector in the great tradition of the Victorian collectors. He collected absolutely everything that came his way. These accumulated in his house in Castleton which he called his House of Wonders. After his death the collection was eventually acquired by Derbyshire County Council and is now part of the permanent collection in Buxton.

So large is the collection that for reasons of space only about half of it can be displayed. But that half gives a marvellous overview of the extraordinary range of objects which Douglas accumulated. He seems to have been fascinated by miniaturisation. So we have exhibits, many made by Douglas himself - the smallest electric motor in the world, a tiny model house, a hand written Lords Prayer so small that it will pass through the eye of a needle and the smallest safe in the world. This latter fits in well with Douglas's other great interest - locks and keys - which led him into friendship and subsequently collaboration with the great escapologist Houdini. Indeed, he even tried to emulate Houdini by calling himself Randini!

But these exhibits are clearly only a part of what interested Douglas. He was in fact interested in everything. Bric-a-brac of all description from all over the world found a place in his collection- quite remarkable for a man who hardly travelled. The range is breathtaking , a butterfly assembly, a Tibetan tea churn, a Kaffir shield, an English sampler and a Lead miner's boot and so on, frequently with Douglas's neatly hand written labels.

Not to be dismissed as a mass of junk the collection is actually quite delightful and very definitely worth a visit.


The Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is open every day except Monday. Admission is free

BUXTON MUSEUM AND ART GALLERY - The Derbyshire Open 2005

Brian Nolan - Kestrel at Kinder

Each year artists are invited to enter up to two works, with a Derbyshire theme, completed in the last five years . Four distinguished judges made the selection for the awards, with prizes being donated by Tarmac Central Ltd; Major Munro and the Friends of Buxton Museum & Art Gallery.

This years exhibition was arguably one of the strongest in recent years. I was extremely impressed by the quality and range of the exhibits. The Buxton Museum and Art Gallery is always a pleasure to visit and since the admission fees have been dropped attracts an even wider audience. The exhibition, exhibited in the foyer and fist floor gallery, was beautifully hung with plenty of space to stand and contemplate. On arrival. one was immediately struck by D Julian's powerful representation of , St Francis's Birds Well Fcuk'ed Up, an expertly executed piece, it's relevance to Derbyshire not completely clear, which had achieved an Highly Commended accolade. On the opposite wall a delightful collection of works from younger artists are exhibited, I particularly liked Local Landscape with Drystone Wall by Jacob Stone and the ambitious Nostalgic View of Buxton - Terrace Road, 1920's by Francis Olvez-Wilshaw.

Moving into the main gallery on the 1st floor, one was struck by the amazing diversity of art on display. In central position was the well deserved winner of the Derbyshire Trophy, Building on Buxton by T Beresford. A fascinating oil painting of a very topical theme - the building of the Derbyshire University Halls of Residence beside the Buxton viaduct. Beresford had tackled a difficult subject expertly and in so doing encapsulated an import stage in the history of Buxton.

Another large industrial work, commended by the judges, was R Allen's - Megaliths and Mechanicals - Pride Park. A major work skilfully executed in oils. In sharp contrast I particularly enjoyed a tiny etching by J Box - Early Morning - which, I was sorry but not surprised to note, had already been sold. Another small piece, which, in my opinion, had been overlooked by the judges was B Hughes' - Church of St John ;the Baptist, Tideswell - a delightful and beautifully executed pen and watercolour. I greatly admired the excellent draftsmanship, a rare quality now-a-days. The unusually titled Ashbourne Weekend by J Stephenson was another example of exquisite draftsmanship and lovely use of water colour. The Friends made an excellent choice for their trophy in Roger Morton's little mixed media work - Lower Hartshay.

For those who appreciate wonderfully evocative representations of Derbyshire landscape, there was much to enjoy. J Rossouw's - Rapeseed Field Morning, particularly caught my eye, as did C Brown's dramatic watercolour - Storm Brewing . Three oil paintings - The Stark Peak - by D Morley; Morning Snow, Bucka Hill - by D Pass and Carsington Water by R Rawcliffe, were delightful and R Bartels' crayon and paint - Fairylights and Dust, was very pleasing.

In short, the exhibition was a fascinating array of Derbyshire talent, affording hours of pleasure and some great bargains for art lovers. Highly commended and well worth a visit.

Rosie Hughes

CHRIS ROBINSON - Layers & Textures - Paintings, Collage, Photographs


An exhibition at Project X

Chris Robinson has produces a tiny little gem of an exhibition which is displayed in a jewel of a venue, an aesthetically rich and intriguing coffee shop, in the heart of Buxton's cultural quarter, staffed by lovely young men, and boasting a ladies lavatory of opulent splendour and sublime taste. (Presumably the Gentlemen's excuse me is just as nice, but that was beyond the remit of the reviewer).

Admittedly the first thing that came to mind on arriving at Project X (which is rich in a variety of unusual artistic treasures on every available surface) was 'Where is it?'

The exhibition was tucked away and not clearly marked so it was hard to find-but it was well worth finding, and well worth the effort of trying to fathom it.

The next question formed itself slowly over a frappe latte-'What is it-exactly?' Then 'How does the social etiquette work around looking at something behind a nice couple who are having a cosy little chat on a sofa while simultaneously indulging themselves on coconut and lime muffins and lashings of squirty cream?' (What if they are having marital problems -or trying to hide...) It is, after all rude to stare.

Hovering around in a weird way didn't seem like an option because of the risk that someone might call the police. Clad mainly in beige, fortuitously, it was possible to peep out from behind a conveniently situated large sculptural plant, without intimidating the customers in any way.

Eventually however Mr and Mrs Lime Muffin left, and the red leather sofa opposite the wall where the work was hung offered itself as a location for viewing pleasure.

The ten pieces of varying size, style and complexity included collage, montage and various media and techniques, incorporating text as well as images (and a rather incongruous photo of a slice of cake).

Looking intently at the work in a fairly dimly lit space, thoughts started to intrude about the 'why' of it all.

On one level the exhibition was simply pleasing, on another it was provocative and a little bit worrying. Aesthetic responses are easily articulated but engaging with the work intellectually without sounding like a contender for Pseud's corner, is always a little trickier. The work provoked layers of thinking as well as textures of feeling, pseudy but so...

Prompted easily by the art to contrast images of the women bordering the exhibition possibly goddess like, and revealing tremendous complexity, with the tabloid portrayals in the OK magazine. This publication of questionable merit strewn casually on the coffee shop coffee table portrayed our sisters revealing nothing more thought provoking than their tremendous bosoms. More complex reactions were stimulated by the art, including confusion. Why put that collection of images together -what is the message? Why are dolphins blue and not in the sea, and why do those women have so much going on under their skirts -what's it saying. Is it about power, dreams, responsibility, wishes-or is it designed to unsettle-in a way not associated with the pretty landscape genre so frequently found on caf walls?

Looking for clues in some of the text, which was incorporated into the work, it became apparent that maybe weird thoughts and strange ideas are OK (not stalking obviously or photographing road kill). What does this exhibition mean-is it possible to be objective-is it too much of a caffeine rush on a hot day-where is this discomfort coming from?

Facial muscles started to contort-liking it but not really able to make sense of it. Layers and textures starting to unravel, threads pulling through an intensely personal journey for the artist.

Incongruity of cake explained -that was just an advert-but why there right in the middle-subliminal advertising -don't think so-not exactly subtle...p'raps that needs moving....

Yes-so-it's well worth a look. - Interesting, pleasing, unfathomable, and probably quite deep.

A self conscious review by someone feeling engaged yet uncertain-shaken but not stirred-stirred but not shaken-I think I'll have a martini. Is there a subliminal advert here somewhere?



William Oakins - exhibitor in High Peak Artists and Craft Workers Association exhibition

Pump Room, 8-24 July

The tranquil surroundings of Buxton's historic Pump Room once again provide a fitting backdrop for this exhibition of local artists and craftspeople. A cool oasis from the hubbub of the Fringe and Festival, this exhibition is a great opportunity to view (and perhaps purchase) work from many talented individuals.

There is much to enjoy, with work to satisfy all tastes. I was drawn particularly to Clare Allen's simple but effective linocuts; to David Ireland's watercolours, which avoid the tendency to be insipid often seen in the medium, to convey the starkness of the Derbyshire landscape; to Robert Wilson's bold mixed-medium figures; to Amy Forster's stylish bags; to Katarina Lees' warm and inviting rag rugs; and to Sarah Wales' attractive print collages.

My personal favourites, however, in this eclectic collection were Ingrid Karlssonkemp's striking mixed-media compositions, full of texture and colour, and Catriona Hall's idiosyncratic animals, amusingly rendered in acrylic.

As always, the Pump Room Art & Craft Exhibition is worth a browse - there is bound to be something to catch your eye.

Robbie Carnegie.

JEAN BROOKE-TAYLOR, ARTIST - Pictures for Modern Living

I first met Jean in the Spring when she was kind enough to show me her pictures. I was struck then by their vibrancy and range. Seeing her collection today, displayed against the white walls of a lovely Victorian sitting room, the impression it made was even more striking.

Her varied subject matter was inspired by memories of her native Australia, English gardens and her drawings for a vegetarian cookbook. Jean works in a wide range of mediums, on display were pencil drawings, acrylics, collages, cutouts and mixed medias. Viewing the exhibition it was hard to believe that the work was created by a single artist.

On entering the room I was immediately struck by 'Roses' with its swirling pink and mauve flowers. Also in the English garden collection, 'Crocuses' with its glorious colours and the finely executed 'Snowdrops', perfectly captured their subject matter. Continuing the floral theme but with a very different treatment Flora 5 and Flora 6 combined acrylic paint with delicate ink tracery. I particularly liked the way the painting continued on the sides of the frameless deep canvases.

The large carbon pencil drawing, 'At Parterre Garden', demonstrates further Jean's technical and imaginative range. In complete contrast 'A Rearrangement of Crown Derby', is a gorgeously colourful collage depicting broken china. The humour in Jean's work can also be seen in a small canvas of a girls face with fruit earrings and necklace, entitled 'Eat Me'.

Hand coloured papers are used in the cutouts and collages. I was especially impressed by three works entitled 'Butterfly House', 'Parrots up a Gumtree' and 'Under the Sea', with their vibrant colours and intricate shapes and the contrasting 'White Flowers'.

Jean describes her work as being designed primarily but not exclusively for conservatories and kitchens. The delightful square canvas entitled 'Garlic' has already been snapped up, no doubt for someone's kitchen wall.

There is so much to see and enjoy in this exhibition I encourage you all to walk up to Hardwick Mount and view for yourselves.

The exhibition runs until 23rd July