Art & Design Tuesday, September 11th

15 h.Art shows that are going to brighten up your day/month/year

Art & Design Tuesday, September 11th

15 h.Art shows that are going to brighten up your day/month/year

Herefordshire’s art scene is, like every other scene in Herefordshire, passionate, but in a way so adverse to self-promotion as to appear on first look as wilfully avoiding any credit for fear of ‘showing off’. It’s a rural humility that anyone around here is well-acquainted with.

But for nine days a year, the artistic community gets a spotlight shone on it – whether it likes it or not. The truth is that there are some truly special artists hidden away in studios across the county. There’s a renowned art college, whose grads often opt to take the cheap studio space (and significantly Not London rental prices) to start their career. And then there is also the root of that rurality; by way of inspiration there are the vistas and rolling hills, the everyday presence of nature, and then there is the ongoing connection evident in countryside communities to the process of making things.

h.Art, now in its 16th year, showcases all of that. Artists throw open their studios, galleries put on special shows and venues from wineries to barns are converted in to makeshift exhibition space for the week.

The programme is extensive, with hundreds of artists involved. You can view it in full here – while a hotlist of the best ‘experiences’ will follow this in a separate article on the site. This however is a selection of shows we’ve got in our Do Not Miss Out On folder.

Whether you’ve got an MA in Fine Art and a diamond-crusted skull in the Tate, or you just like looking at pretty things, this list – like art (*cringe*) – is for everyone.   



1. Canwood Gallery – the Big Daddy of showcases 

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Herefordshire’s premier gallery is proving why, with more than 200 pieces on display for h.Art (and the occasional acoustic guitarist).

The mix is even more eclectic than usual, but skews towards fine art and the contemporary variety of it. Check out Ed Elliot’s stunning bronze angel sculpture (above) outside, and Nick Holmes and Peter Stillwell inside. Canwood’s open from 11am – until 5pm throughout the festival, with commissions being donated to St Michaels Hospice if you fancy hanging one of these gorgeous pieces on your wall, and doing your bit for charity at the same time. 

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2. Molly Bythell @ De Koffie Pot, Hereford 

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Upstairs in your favourite Bridge St cake-and-a-coffee-spot (take a right at the top of the spiral stairs) is a great little solo show. The walls are full of all kinds of colour, and the work is made to make you smile, interpreting and reinterpreting street photography by giving the scenes a new frame, and new, relentlessly-female characters.

The embarrassingly-talented young artist whose brush is behind it all tends to be on-hand for a chat if you want to know who the Chicken Man is and why he’s wearing nail polish.

Open from 9am every day.


3. The OMP h.Art Prize exhibition

Shannon Donovan’s patterned porcelain animal skull sculptures are maybe the only pieces in the whole of h.Art which could somehow sit as easily on Mary Berry’s mantlepiece as Johnny Depp’s.

The first-floor Church St gallery, the Old Mayor’s Parlour (or OMP, for the kidz) is showing work from all three OMP Prize winners (an open-entry competition ran in conjunction with the festival) with Susan Edwards’ tactile painting and ‘earth artist’ Jackie Yeomans splitting the space with Donovan and her outrageously-beautiful faux-bones.

This one actually runs until the end of October - more info here. 


4. The Big Show @ Ledbury Gallery

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Rachel Rickett’s animals have this quality of being unquestionably alive, but never asking you to believe that they actually are.

I should say ‘animal sculptures’. She’s not a taxidermist. She is however an award-winning sculptor who recently featured on the Saatchi Gallery site. You should definitely go and check out her pieces at the High Street galley – along with metal-leaf mosaic abstracts from former film set designer Brent Blair.

The gallery’s open 10am – 5pm, up to and including Saturday.


5. Claire Griffiths @ the Green Stage gallery, Bishops Frome


In one of the better ideas for a print collection, Claire Griffiths went on a six-day Elvis-themed walk that culminated in Europe’s largest festival dedicated to The King at Porthcawl – and then she turned it in to a series of paintings. They are brilliant and funny and feature an Elvis on a horse. Head to the Hop Pocket to check them out.

Click here for opening hours for the Green Stage.


6. Printmakers at the Chapel @ The Chapel Gallery, Bromyard

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You might have noticed Blaze Cyan’s monochrome etchings of Dramatic Trees all over the promo material. They’ll be at the Chapel gallery in far better resolution, along with an exhibition that celebrates all things ‘print’. You’ve got Lucia Davies’ painted collagraphs, iconic bone china tea cups and cumulus carrier bags.

Info and opening hours here.


7. Sharon Curtis – Printmaker @ Brunel Workshops, Ross-on-Wye

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Talking of print, Sharon Curtis – an artist who makes beautifully-simple prints with all kinds of pop culture resonance – is opening up her studio for demonstrations and exhibitions. It’s on the Ashburton estate in Ross. Give her a shout here for more info.


8. Art in the Dingle @ Leys Hill

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Art in the Dingle might sound like a George Michael song, but it is in fact an exhibition at Arthur’s Dingle – and one featuring five uber-talented female artists. Myra Fricker’s mixed media pieces using kiln-formed glass are one of the most unique, technically-impressive and just straight-up cool things you’ll see at h.Art, while Sally Tottle featured on the front of the 2013 programme with her wired-formed equine sculptures.

For directions – the space is just off the B4234 – head to the venue’s h.Art page here.


9. Sarah Putt @ the Old Electric Shop, Hay-on-Wye

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Sarah Putt is already Hay-famous for this incredible portrait. She’s hanging that, and a load of new work – both painting and sculpture - in the Aladdin’s Cave Of Cool that is the Old Electric Shop café on Hay’s Broad St. It’s open 10am – 5pm daily.


10. Kate Kato (Kasagi) @ her studio in Gladestry

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Kasagi (Japanese for magpie) takes things that have been intricately assembled for us – things like old books – and then intricately re-assembles them as plants and, more commonly, insects. Kate’s throwing open the doors of her near-Kington studio to show you how she does it – just be careful swatting away any bees in case they are in fact lifelike art pieces.

The studio (Foxglove Cottage, HR5 3NY) is open from 10am – 5pm.


11. Nick Holmes @ home (in Pembridge)

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Almost certainly my favourite artist in the programme – he recasts Strokes album art and his weird and winking portraiture includes ‘Self-portrait as a Sunderland fan’ and ‘Self-portrait as Charles I’ – Nick Holmes already has had a mention here as a part of the Canwood show, but he’s also inviting you to view his mixed media and paintings in the habitat they were conceived, namely his Pembridge studio.

Contact him through his website here for details on opening times and directions – although he is definitely doing a late opening on Thursday night.


12. Sidney Nolan Trust @ Presteigne

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Through some happy coincidence Sidney Nolan, one of Australia's more iconic painters of the last century, ended up in Presteigne. After his death in 1992 his studio at The Rodd was left open, and now, for the duration of h.Art, the gallery plays host to another Australian ex-pat painter in Celia Perceval.

Having moved to England at a far younger age, she returned frequently to paint, and in particular, to paint the country’s wild bushland. You can see what that looks like between the hours of 11am and 5pm until the 16th.


13. Julie Cooper @ Staunton-on-Arrow

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If you like your paintings on the more abstract end of the artistic spectrum, make sure you take a trip out West to Julie Cooper’s studio in the quaint little village of Staunton (just north of Nick Holmes’ Pembridge studio). There’s real atmosphere in her painting - taking cues from landscapes and locales from Herefordshire to India - as there is in the corner of collage of her portfolio.

Her h.Art page doesn’t mention opening times, but give her a shout through her own website here for more info.


14. Pauline Bradley @ Bouvier Fine Arts, Leominster


We talk through our bodies, more, in most cases, than we do through our language. And Pauline Bradley’s pursuit focusses on telling the stories her subjects are telling through their bodies – through their movements, their form, how they are in the space around them.

The results are beautiful. And on show at the Leominster gallery (“that specialises in Cornish art”) this week.


A Photographer’s View @ Brockington studio, Bodenham

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One of Dave Coles’ shots of the falls at Rhyader feels more like the brooding otherworldly space-scapes of a George Lucas acid trip than a Welsh reservoir. It’s a great shot, in a series of great shots; all smoky monochrome and menace.

Gareth Lloyd has a few images from inside what looks like a disused factory that seem to come from the same world. Both are among the five local shutter-jockeys exhibiting their photographers-eye view of the local geography side-by-side for h.Art. Get all the details on the Bodenham gallery here – it’s open 10am until 6pm, just past the England’s Gate pub.

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