While in North Devon recently I visited the West Gallery (http://www.westgallery.co.uk/) at West Putford. The owner, Belinda Walker, had emailed me some months previously, suggesting that I drop in if in the area, and I wasn't one to overlook a nudging like that. The gallery is opposite the entrance to The Gnome Reserve, an unconnected local attraction (for gnomes, presumably). Considering the very rural location, it's actually a surprise to find two tourist-orientated places cheek by jowl, but there you are. Belinda remembered me as 'the lady with the blog'. It was lunchtime on a Sunday. I had the place to myself. It was all set up for a Private View that very evening, and Belinda pressed me to attend if I could manage it. Of course I could.
The Gallery showcases attractive work by Devon artists of all kinds. So there were paintings, prints, pots, glassware, creations in wood, textiles, jewellery, the whole gamut, all nicely set out on walls and tables.
I quickly identified two things that I liked very much. One was a one-off coral necklace in bright red by Izabela Gorska-Kwak (aka Isabelle Jewellery (http://www.isabelle-jewellery.co.uk/), which I long lingered over. I eventually decided, after asking Belinda whether I could try it on, that it didn't work for me. The red was so intense that only someone with lustrous dark hair and a dusky complexion could get away with it. But it was nevertheless a beautiful creation. I didn't walk away empty-handed, though. Another piece had caught my attention: a fabulous glass bowl by Gregg Anston-Race (http://www.craftfusion.co.uk/). It cost £90. Three days' spending money. I thought about it. But it was so nice that I just had to buy it. Here it is, at home:
The first three are daylight shots. The last, the golden one, is how the centre of the bowl looks in the dark when lit up by a nearby lamp. What rich colours! And of course it echoes the coloration of the main painting in my lounge at home, 'A Field of Dreams' by Jo Pryor (http://www.jopryor.net/). Belinda explained that Gregg melts copper wire (and presumably certain pigments) into a thick square glass plate, and then heats the piece up further to whatever temperature will produce the colours he intends. Finally, the plate is turned into a bowl by another heating over a mould that allows it to sag in the middle. It is a repeatable process, so the bowl I bought isn't actually a one-off. But there must be small differences between pieces, in how the copper wire is bent and twisted, and how the pigments are splattered on. The glass itself has frosty patterns in it, so even the edges are interesting.
After a latish lunch at The Bush Inn at Morwenstow - a very pleasant Sunday roast - I walked the nearby cliffs to Hawker's Hut and back (more on that in another post), and then meandered back to West Putford for the Private View. This was surprisingly well-attended, bearing in mind that the light was fading, the weather had deteriorated, and the locate was so remote and out-in-the-country. I had my free glass of wine and mingled. I wasn't there for too long, but I spoke with Izabela Gorska-Kwak (who had made the red coral necklace) and Gill Jones (http://www.gilljonesart.com/), who had produced intriguing paintings that contained ghostly nude studies of her husband. As I drove away, I thought that all these artists had to work pretty hard at their craft and at promoting themselves. And there was a lot of travel. Izabela for example had to go all the way back to Crediton that evening (not so far from Exeter). It was now raining. I didn't fancy her journey in the dark.