Kington's artistic community

PUBLISHED: 10:14 21 January 2011 | UPDATED: 20:31 20 February 2013

Kington's artistic community

Kington's artistic community

Chris Poole visits the Herefordshire town with an impressive number and range of artists

Artistic time in Kington

Chris Poole visits the Herefordshire town with an impressive number and range of artists

Peter Horrocks came to this town of some 2,000 souls more than 30 years ago. As an art teacher, the opportunity to head his own department proved irresistible. I was teaching in London, he explains and knew the area slightly from canoeing holidays on the Wye. We wanted to bring up our children in the country. Getting the job in the school here was like a dream and weve loved it from the moment we came. Peter uses ochre pigments from Clearwell caves in the Forest of Dean to create abstracts that are, he says, inspired by landscapes but are sometimes geological or simply aspects of a landscape. He will be showing his work at The Courtyard in Hereford later in the year.

Like Peter, several other Kington artists take part in the annual open-studio event h.Art. One of them is sculptor Rachel Ricketts. Working from a small studio in the centre of Kington, Rachel creates work that is shown in galleries across the country from East Anglia to Wales. I arrived in Kington on the tide of life, she says, and found the people welcoming and accepting of incomers. And there are gorgeous views wherever you go. Horses are an enduring theme in her work. They make very fine shapes physically and carry a plethora of historical symbolism.
Symbolism is important to Wayne Summers too. Primarily a painter, Waynes work is predominantly concerned with myth, magic and religion. He and his wife came from Richmond a dozen years ago. We love it here. The people are so friendly. And the shops offer sensational local produce fruit, veg, cheese, meat and even seafood from the Pembrokeshire coast which isnt that far away. Waynes work will be on show at the Llanover Hall Arts Centre in Cardiff from the end of February.
Visitors to Hereford will find a large painting by another Kington artist, Clare Woods, hanging in the cathedral. It was part of an exhibition at Croft Castle, inspired by their trees. I called it The Bishops because there is a connection between Croft and previous bishops of Hereford. Clare often works on a huge scale. Her work has been shown widely in Athens, Berlin, London and Madrid and is on permanent exhibition at museums in Denmark, the United States and Moscow. One of her current commissions is a 75-metre long project for Londons Olympic Park. My husband is an artist too. When we came to Kington about 15 years ago we just felt instantly at home. The Leominster Morris intrigued me and I wanted to photograph the landscapes they danced in. So we came to Herefordshire.

Photography often has a role in the work of artists. Some photographers have turned their craft into an art. One such is professional photographer David Kirby. David and his wife had the unusual Huf House built on the edge of Kington when he left the world of commercial photography. I had retired from the demands of important clients such as BICC and Honda and put my cameras away. But meeting artists here, especially Peter Horrocks, encouraged me to take another look at my photography and turn it to creating exhibition prints. Davids change of direction has proved successful, with one of his prints taking a prize last year in the Herefordshire Open exhibition at the citys museum. It was part of a series of three, taken in Venice on 35mm monochrome film, but printed as hybrids with some colours added. Work as a commercial photographer is transitory. Now Im creating something that stands a chance of lasting much longer.

A few minutes walk from David and Celias Huf House will take you to the home and studio of painter Polly Miller. She, too, has used the h.Art event to promote her work in watercolours. It was a little quieter last year but well worth doing. Kington does have many artists. Its full of interesting people and is a lively, active community with lots going for it including, now, the Marches Access Point in the old police station they run courses and have all manner of resources.

Close by is another painter, Angela Gladwell. With her artist husband Richard Rush and talented photographer son Max Rush it is hard to escape art in their Kington home and studios. Ive always been influenced by natural history and things in museums. And I pounce on people who strike me as ornamental. One of her subjects was Jess, a Kington character belly dancer, folk singer and musician capturing her complete with butterfly tights and plastic lobster.

At least a dozen other artists live and work in Kington. Ranging from musicians to tattooists to blacksmiths. The town has an art gallery run by Janet Thomas, herself an accomplished portrait painter. Contact through Janets website And there is a vibrant amateur art group led by Dr Ruth Barker (01544 388708).

There is no single reason for the creativity that exists and thrives in Kington. But with it, a cultural symmetry is emerging in Herefordshire. With festivals to stimulate our intellect at Hay close to our western edge, a celebration of poetry at Ledbury in the south-east and, now, the artistic creativity that is evident in the north-west at Kington we have a triangle of the fine arts and festivals that is second to none.

GETTING THERE: Kington is on the A44 about 15 miles west of Leominster. Sat nav coordinates for the town centre are HR5 3AL

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