Animal appeal of Dave Durston's art exhibition in Cheltenham
WHEN people come into Dave Durston’s art exhibition, they either go to the left or the right.
On one side are his giant abstract canvasses, on the other are his latest drawings of the sheep who live near his Cotswold home.
“It’s fascinating seeing which type of people go one way and which the other,” said Dave, who is showing his paintings in the Beechwood Shopping Centre for six weeks.
Both sets of paintings have the wow factor and are obviously striking a chord with shoppers as well as art lovers, as they take time out of browsing the stores to take a peek at Dave’s work.
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“This is the first time I have exhibited in a shopping centre and it never really occurred to me as an option before, but it has been a revelation,” said Dave, 62.
“I’m getting far more visitors than I usually would because people who wouldn’t normally visit an art gallery are coming in to have a look round because it’s in the middle of shops.
“The unit they have given me is an amazing space to show off my work, particularly my large canvasses that it’s sometimes difficult to display because of a lack of space.”
Dave has always been an artist, fitting other more regular jobs around it to earn a living.
Now he’s retired he can indulge his passion as much as he likes and can try out different genres and themes.
“When I moved to a village near Guiting Power there were sheep in a field nearby and I just started painting them,” he said.
“I have really enjoyed it and now I have just started painting cows as well.”
As a schoolboy, Dave admits he wasn’t very academic but found his niche in art.
“The only two things I was any good at were art and cricket,” he said.
After moving to Gloucestershire in 1967 he completed his education with an art foundation course and then did an MA in Fine Art at Birmingham University.
After various jobs that included driving a bread van and teaching history and geography, Dave became head of art at Westwoods Grammar School in Northleach, moving to the Cotswold School in Bourton-on-the-Water as head of expressive arts, where he remained until he retired two years ago.
An award-wining artist, Dave has had more than 30 solo exhibitions around the country and abroad in Europe and America.
As well as his large abstracts, Dave shows smaller watercolours and uses oils, acrylics, inks and wax in his work.
“The paintings of animals I have done are completely different from my abstracts and I have found it a far more relaxed activity,” he said.
“In this exhibition I have taken a look at my work over the last two or three years and it has enabled me to see which direction I am going.”
He gets inspiration for his abstract paintings from his life experiences.
Paintings in this exhibition include his interpretation of experiencing a hurricane in St Lucia.
“I was on holiday and a hurricane hit while I was there and continued for 24 hours,” he said.
“I stood against a wall to stop getting blown away and made some drawings and have translated these in my paintings.”
Although this is a selling exhibition, Dave appreciates not everyone would be able to afford an original watercolour so he has made prints and cards of the paintings so everyone can have a Dave Durston piece in their home.
“It’s so important that my art is accessible to all,” he said.
* The exhibition continues until October 3 and is open from Wednesday to Sunday.