PUBLISHED: 13:14 08 August 2011 | UPDATED: 19:49 20 February 2013
Chris Poole looks at the annual showcase for Herefordshire's artists
This month, for the tenth year running, pink roadside signs will sprout all over Herefordshire. They mark the arrival of the countys open studio event, an opportunity for artists to put their work on show to thousands of visitors.
With a background in performing arts and festival management Leoni Linton was an ideal choice as coordinator. Ive always had a creative side which has been important in understanding the needs of the 150 artists who will be taking part this year, says Leoni. Our advertised opening times for all of our 102 venues is 11am to 5pm, for nine days. Thats a big commitment for artists who work on their own from home studios. So we have special events at galleries and other places enabling us to embrace as many artists as we can.
One of these is the Apple Store Gallery in Herefords Bridge Street. Well known from its time as a rural gallery at Brockhampton. Apple Store is run by Marion Campbell and David Laws. Marion has been part of the events Steering Group for some years. Here at Apple Store we specialise in themed, issue-based exhibitions for example in July we had conflict and war as the message our exhibiting artists, such as Jane Tudge and Viv Sole, were expressing. We want to encourage young people into arts so for h.Art this year were having a Young Open exhibition featuring the work of 18-30 year olds.
And as another demonstration of Apple Stores commitment to young artists, 17-year old Emma Boulton from Hereford Cathedral School is gaining work experience at the gallery this year and through h.Art.
Painter Peter Horrocks, in Kington, also supports the organisation of h.Art. Peter works in, among other mediums, ochre pigments mined at Clearwell caves in the Forest of Dean. I ventured 300 feet underground recently to find my own ochre ore and now it sits in my studio for visitors to see for themselves. Last year we had about 250 visitors here at the studio. Its a really good opportunity not just to show my work but to talk about methods like the use of English Red Earth, as the Renaissance artists described Clearwell ochres.
Following the h.Art trail is easy with the detailed map provided. It might take you across the county from Kington to Cradley near the border with Worcestershire. Blue Ginger, run by Sue Lim, is one of the venues in this area. Se says: H.Art is a high point of the year for us. We have a holiday atmosphere and regularly have visitors from across the Atlantic as well as distant parts of the UK.
Jewellery designers and makers Lyn Fox and Carol James will be demonstrating their work at Blue Ginger this year. Lyn favours simplicity in her hallmarked work while Carol has been inspired by her archaeology background with motifs drawn from Bronze Age cave paintings in North Wales.
In the south, at Ledbury, mother and daughter Valerie and Andrea McLean will be showing work at their galleries in the town. Valerie, best known perhaps for her book and paintings of May Hill, works with notebooks and sketchbooks at our many medieval churches. Ive always had an interest in the Herefordshire School of Architecture which you find in churches such as Kilpeck, Fownhope, Castle Frome and Shobdon. Work drawn from these is the theme of my next book of paintings and drawings. Valeries Kilpeck and the Romanesque paintings and drawings, is due to be published in the New Year.
Andreas fascination, from childhood, with the Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral led to a painting now hanging at the British Library in London. My studio in Ledbury is at the old Cottage Hospital with its high ceilings and wonderful north light. Andreas work is regularly accepted for the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy.
Back in Hereford, another established venue is the Castle House Hotel. Paula Snow, from the hotel, explains: Weve been exhibiting work by local artists for some years. For h.Art this year well be working with the fantastic Galanthus Gallery at Wormbridge to put on a mixed media exhibition from professional and amateur artists.
Galleries all over the county will be showing off Herefordshires huge stock of creative talent. The Lion Gallery in Leominster, for example, will feature paintings and sculptures from Rachel Ricketts who says: Its a really good promotion for the county with visitors from far and wide.
Parkfields Gallery in Ross-on-Wye will have embroidered work from Sarah Cheese inspired by the flora and fauna of the nearby Forest of Dean. The Old Chapel Gallery at Pembridge will have a wide range of work including exhibits in the garden and one of the more unusual venues Tinsmiths in Ledbury will be concentrating on textile designs and print workshops.
Leoni Linton says: The event is more diverse this year. Look at the main image on the cover of our catalogue for example a metal sculpture of a zebra by Sally Matthews that will be on show at Cabalva Farm at Whitney-on-Wye or the steamroller prints being made at the Sidney Nolan Trust near Presteigne. We are fortunate to have Steels of Hereford as a main sponsor and the support of thecitys shops, such as Philip Morris in Widemarsh Street, which will show work from Herefordshireartists in their windows. We have attracted over 20,000 visitors in recent years and Im sure we will again this year.