Seven pop up at The Bear
IT sounds like a title of an Enid Blyton novel. And in many ways Seven pop up at The Bear is like one of her adventures. There's an element of surprise, mystery and the script is well constructed.
The characters involved, however, have different names to the Secret Seven – although for this event, there is a Colin involved.
I'm talking about a new exhibition taking place at Bin Ends Wine Warehouse at the Bear of Rodborough. It's the first time this venue has been used as an art gallery yet the creative mix of wine and art makes a fascinating subject.
The vast palate of flavours and nuances in the wide world of wine is, perhaps, not that different to that of art. And certainly the seven artists involved in the show, which runs from February 19 to March 10 between them give an eclectic taste of media and disciplines.
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Organised by art and photographer teacher Karina Gabner, the show brings together friends, most of who have one common interest – playing music together at Minchinhampton Folk Club at The Cross in Avening.
"When I visited Bin Ends last November, I was struck by the wonderful space available and I asked the co-owner Peter Hanna what he thought about staging an exhibition there. He thought it was a great idea and he, along with Simon Taylor, the in-house wine merchant, and manager Aaron Thomas have been wonderfully supportive," admits Karina.
"I then asked a few creative friends if they would be interested in showing their work and they were very enthusiastic."
The resulting show then is a rich, warming and velvety experience. Now that does sound like a wine tasting. But then this is in a sense an art tasting session and one will expect to see examples of painting, photography, drawing, leatherwork, life drawing and possibly sculpture.
The artists involved – Karina Gabner, Nicola Clark, Janice Anderson, Colin Sillence, Katharine Neilson, Cheryl Cordery and Penny Mitchell – convey different messages, mood and themes which ensure an interesting mix and feast for the eye.
Karina's paintings and photographs are inspired by landscape, poetry, music, architecture and wild flowers. One of her current interests is darkroom photography, experimenting with solarisation and an old fashioned Colorvir process for dyeing black and white prints. She splits her time between Surrey and Stroud, so enjoys both city and country but agrees the Five Valleys offer something special for artists.
"There's nowhere quite like this area. It is extraordinary and rather like East London where there are many types of galleries. We have all had exhibitions in the past where we have sold nothing, but yet we still get a kick out of doing it and it gives us a focus. The idea of bringing art, wine and music together is appealing and at our preview there will certainly be a party atmosphere as the folk club will be providing the music during the evening," says Karina.
Her images are very different to the precise images of Colin, who exhibited for the first time with Karina last year at Lowe's Gallery in Nailsworth.
Colin, who lives on Rodborough Common, patiently waits for his subject – a unique plant or insect – to perform and provide the perfect composition. A gifted mathematician, he has just retired from a career in defence science and is devoting his time to restoring instruments, playing music, natural history and photography. His photographs are stunning and capture a fleeting moment or an extraordinary find such as an endangered butterfly opening its wings or landing on an orchid. The images he is showing at Seven pop up at The Bear are from one site, one summer and one camera.
"Last summer I went out on Rodborough Common, which is right on my doorstep. I took a few shots of the Duke of Burgundy, which is the second most endangered species in the UK. I couldn't avoid it as there were four in my garden on one day. I find it gripping and most exciting to go out on a hunt. Our local countryside is something to be treasured," he says.
The third photographer in the group is Cheryl. Her striking images have been described as 'Cartier-Bresson meets David Bailey'. For this exhibition she is showing photographs from Spain, a selection of beautiful portraits taken at Semana Santa and some of the famous fiestas and celebrations that take place around Easter in Andalusia.
Atmosphere and energy are the themes pursued in Nicola's racehorse paintings as well psychological moments in relationships in her people paintings. Recent drawings of winged horses portray a more symbolic, illustrative approach.
"Technically, I am fascinated by the power of colour to create space and mood. I struggle with this as I am, by nature, more inclined to monochrome drawings. All the work on show is concerned with this aspect of painting," she explains.
Landscape and still life painter Kathy works instinctively and fast which gives her acrylic and oil paintings a fresh unfinished look that captures atmosphere and place.
Overall balance and structure is what she concentrates on rather than detail and her semi-abstract images all sing with bold colour.
As do the landscape paintings of Janice, which are simple in composition, yet have a textural, illustrative feel, and share Kathy's zest for colour yet in a more delicate way – perhaps more of a dessert wine rather than one for a main course.
The only non-folk club member is Penny, who has embraced the connection with art and wine using her tremendous wit.
Inspired by the wine labels, she has used the often elaborate exotic descriptions depicted to act as loose interpretations of her life drawings.
The words "intense fruitiness and body," and "ripe for picking where green lemons hang amid moist foliage " conjure up all kinds of images. One can't help looking forward to seeing what Penny produces to match up with such stimulating statements.
She says: "I am not a wine connoisseur but I can't help being tempted by the descriptions on the bottles. I thought it would be fun to combine the life drawings with these amazing narratives."
Combining art, music and wine sounds a winning combination
I'm sure the seven will be popping up at The Bear for more fun and artistic adventures in the future – especially if the wine is flowing freely.