Friday, 8 April 2016

Spring Fever : An Open exhibition

Spring has sprung over at miss annabel dee* gallery & studios on the Leigh Road, Leigh on Sea.  "Spring Fever" is the gallery's third open exhibition and is showcasing over 30 artists work over the next month.

"I'm so excited for the public to finally see this exhibition - there is such a wide range of styles and subjects.  We've had so many submissions - and we haven't got enough room!  We will be putting some of the paintings on rotation so everyone's work gets seen"  says gallery owner, Annabel Johnson.

The exhibition has attracted submissions from well known local artists such as Hashim Akib,  Paul Alcock and Malcolm Perry alongside other emerging local artists.  However one particular submission has come from slightly further afield - from South Africa.  Annabel has been working closely with London based curator Christian Ravina, whom she met at one of her own ceramic exhibitions at Sotheby's to raise awareness of the talented potters and ceramicists at the ELC Art and Craft Centre in Kwa-Zulu Natal

The exhibition is showing 5 pieces which have traveled across Africa to get to the gallery.  The craft centre is home to many a talented crafts person who under the apartheid years learnt to tell their truth whilst still concealing their personal stories and views of the world in which they were living. This ancient tradition of storytelling lives on. What is remarkable is the raw talent encapsulated in this work. Most of these artists have not been exposed to museums, art schools or the history of ceramics. Yet, their objects represent the very nature of a rich and compelling world.

"I'm delighted that Annabel, an experienced artist with a thriving career in Britain, is opening her space to these artists. Here she has generated an interesting dialogue between their pieces and hers, both of which I have enjoyed over the years, some being commissioned for my family and friends. Through my association with the David Rattray Foundation, a Zululand based charity that supports the education of local children, Annabel's interest in this work has been realised. And now there is the possibility of stimulating a new creative energy from these ceramicists in far distant Zululand, an energy that adds compellingly to their existing cultural identity" says Robin Woodhead, Chairman of Sotheby's, who was involved in the project.

The exhibition is a celebration of emerging and more established artists, 'It's great to see everyone's work together - the ceramics from South Africa with a backdrop of a Jackson Pollock-esqe painting, next to an oil painting of Leigh on Sea boats.  I'm excited about the public being able to see such a selection in a relaxed and welcoming environment'

The exhibition runs from Friday 1st April through to 2nd May at miss annabel dee* gallery & studios, 153 Leigh Road, Leigh on Sea, Essex, SS9 1JF

Friday, 13 November 2015

3 wedding commisions

Things always seem to come in Three's don't they.  I've recently had a trio of exhibitions here at the gallery and I realised that I hadn't shared with you some special commissions I made earlier in the year, and you've guessed it - there were three of them.

Wedding Commission #1

The bride's mother approached me to make her daughter a First Anniversary present with images of her wedding on.  The client more or less knew what she wanted and what she didn't want.  No direct photos and very subtle colours, to reflect the colour theme of the day.  She wanted an aesthetically pleasing piece,  which didn't scream 'wedding souvenir'.

Using photographs from the day that were provided for me, I illustrated the happy couple within a line drawing, but kept the flowers as a photograph to make them stand out.  I also drew various aspects of the day - the bunting and seating arrangement of the venue as it was quite striking and memorable (the venue being an old factory in East London).  The lighting, balloons and pom pom decorations were also included, to give an overall memory of the day

Wedding Commission #2

Nathan approached me to make his wife a surprise 10th Anniversary present.  As you can see the feel to this commission is totally different to the first.  Its more vibrant and colourful - reflecting the colours and flowers used on the day.  

Using photographs Nathan provided, I was able to illustrate the band and the happy couple and also the venue.  Lyrics to the couples first dance were also included to make it even more personal.

Wedding Commission #3

Last but not least, June approached me this autumn for a present for her niece who had just got married in the summer.  She wanted a commemorative plate with their name and the date on.

Using the invitation and the photographs provided I illustrated an image of the couple and added text.  The couple got married in Cornwall so June wanted a laid back nautical feel to match the vibe on the day.

If you are interested in commissioning me for a special occasion, please get in touch!

Plates : £80

Vessels : £180

Saturday, 7 November 2015

A Trio of Exhibitions

Over the last month or so, I have curated a trio of exhibitions based on Leigh on Sea here at the gallery.

The drinks reception of the final one is today, so I thought I would share some photos and some information about what's been going on.

The first exhibition was that of Malcolm Perry - a local artist, who's work has proved incredibly popular over the last year here at miss annabel dee*.  Perry's paintings are vibrant and fun.  

On the private view, Malcolm also was painting LIVE!  Although he didn't get much done as he was chatting with all the people who had come to admire his work!

Malcolm's work was also featured in the local paper advertising the three exhibitions:

The second exhibition was by Robin Goodier, another miss annabel dee* favourite - who is a headteacher and a painter in his spare time.  As you can see his style is totally different from Malcolm's.  It's incredibly refreshing to see the same subject matter painted in such different ways.

Last but not least is Paul Alcock.  Paul paints in 'plein air', which means he will sit outside on location painting - which I admire - especially in extreme weather.  I have a card of his from last year where he was sitting on the seafront in the snow, painting the palm trees!  That's what I call a dedicated artist!

I love Paul's work too, again it's the same subject matter and again so different from the other two artists.

(more pics to come)

Paul's exhibition runs until 21st November, so please come down and have a look for yourself.

Are you an artist?  Would you like to exhibit here at miss annabel dee*? We would
love to hear from you!  Send over some pictures of your work and we will go from there:

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Interview with Ian Sanders

Last week I was approached by writer Ian Sanders to arrange a meeting to discuss a possible article in the next issue of the publication 'Trawler'.

Ian wanted to tell the 'Annabel Story'.  Wow!  I was and am incredibly flattered.  

We arranged to meet at Utopia Coffee Lounge in Southend on Sea.  Somewhere where I am familiar with - it's just in town near where I live, but I never really go in there.  My other half is the coffee lover, I have a penchant for herbal teas.

When I walked in I was pleasantly surprised.  I regularly drive past the place but didn't realise it was so.. quirky!  Due to its location (Southend High Street -ish) I had unfortunately pre judged and always dismissed it (even though it always looks very busy from outside)  

It wouldn't be amiss in Leigh, or London or Brighton..The walls are adorned with art and comic book wallpaper and the chairs are a mish mash of low couches, leather tubs and vintage chairs with comfy cushions.  The menu is written by hand on chalkboards and they brew their own coffee, and you can tell - it smells delicious when I walk in and there is a good mix of people -older women chatting on the sofas, a young family eating their lunch and a couple of studenty types with attached to their earphones and laptops.  There's a great vibe!

Ian was waiting for me in the corner, we exchange pleasantries and Ian gets me a pot of peppermint tea.  I've met Ian a couple of times before through my shop - his son's have been to a couple of clay workshops, but also via Made In Leigh - his wife Zoe asked me to be a speaker at one of their events.

A snapshot of Ian's Instagram after our interview

We have a nice chat about Trawler, where we see it going in the future and about Leigh on Sea and then we are off.  He sets his voice recorder and we chat about me! Yikes!  We speak about how I got into ceramics at university and my old studio in Leighcliff Road and then my studio and gallery in Leigh Road and how it came about that I have work in Downing Street.

We speak about influences on my work, how I like providing narrative and how I am grreatly influenced by psychogeography and the Flaneur.  The art of looking up, down and around - being really aware of yout surroundings.

We spoke about more, but I will leave you to read the finished article!  I will keep you posted when and where it's available!

It was really great chatting with Ian.  He works a couple of days in London and the others 'at home' in Leigh or Southend.  Places like Utopia And Barlow & Fields in Leigh are his workplace.  Speaking to him made me realise that other creatives face the same challenges I do from Social Media to finding inspiration.  I think it's important to be in London (or away from the studio) some of the time and I think that's something I'm going to take away from this interview.  

I seem to have forgotten that my work is all about creating a narrative and exploring and finding that story.  I will be using the days that I am not in the studio or wander, go up to the big smoke, see some exhibitions, people watch.  Maybe just even sit in a coffee shop and drink in my surroundings - with a pot of peppermint tea, of course.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

A Visit to The Hive Studios

On Friday morning I visited The Hive Studios in Chelmsford for a cup of tea and a natter with the artists. 

It's something I've been meaning to do for quite a while - Kymberly of Fitzygogo! (who had a pop up shop last year at my gallery and makes t-shirts and prints adorned with vintage comic book style faces) had invited me, but we both were so busy we could never put a date in the diary.

Unfortunately the leading lady Karen (who set up the studios) was unable to be there, but Kymberly, Tracey, Kitty, Janie, Jill & Cherry (essex girl speaks) were all there to welcome me with a warm cuppa and a biscuit or two!  Check out their website giving a bit more info about themselves here.

We had a lovely chat, catching up with what all of us were doing and also gave each other advice of where we could take our artworks and products next - fairs, markets, exhibitions etc

Here is a peek at Kymberly's studio space:

Below is Kitty's space.  I just loved Kitty's illustrations, I loved the colours and the compositions!  I told her that some of her subject matter and her style was very quirky and would work really well in East London at the markets and art fairs there.  I'd also love to see some of her designs on greeting cards!

An overall shot of the studio:

I love how all the artists are together and not separated.  It must mean they can bounce creative ideas off of each other - it had a real nice feeling.

A cheeky little sign hanging in the bathroom!  As found by Kymberly in a vintage magazine!

I also took a look at a look at Janie's studio - just across the way from The Hive.  She works in there with her partner.  This is one of Janie's pieces that I found interesting.  It reminded me of speech bubbles!

Overall, I had a really nice time at The Hive and something a little bit wonderful has arisen from my visit.  Next year, The Hive Artists will be exhibiting here at miss annabel dee* gallery & studios!  Hurrah!  It will be really nice to showcase their work.

Watch This Space!*

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Leigh Art Trail Children's Workshops 2015

Here I am in the local press advertising the Leigh Art Trail children's workshops:

As usual, the kids loved getting their hands dirty and playing with the clay, we were making their favourite animals.  This year I decided to use air drying clay.  this way the kids can decorate with glitter and other bits and bobs eg pipe cleaners and then could take away their creations on the day.  (Last year I used normal firing clay and took their bits to be fired - no-one came to collect their masterpieces the week after so I was left with an army of Funny Faces!)

Go Gold for September - Limited Edition Plates

This September I have been involved in #gogoldforseptember - it's childhood cancer awareness month.  So, not only have I adorned my shop windows in gold, but I have produced Limited Edition plates with an inspirational quote.

The quote was chosen by Katie, Hattie's Mum (I mentioned her before here)  Hattie is a local two year old who has been diagnosed with leukaemia but is strong and is fighting this terrible disease, so the quote is incredibly apt.

They are £25 each with 20% of each sale going to Children with Cancer UK.  Please get in touch if you're interested in purchasing one of these plates - it's for a very good cause!

(Vintage ceramic plates with digital decal and gold lustre decal)