Tag: creatives

Eyes of Wonder

by Debra Urbacz

It was truly a treat for our community to have the ABC Art Trail back on the calendar this year, a timely reminder of the value that creativity has on our well being.  A little later on in the year than usual, nevertheless with its usual buzz, artists and patrons opened up their homes to bring us a physical gallery that spanned approximately four square miles of Broxtowe borough.

As in previous years, I cycled round the trail. This year though I was accompanied by a good friend and her eight year old daughter, Erin. Having never visited the trail with a child in tow before it became apparent that our progress might be a little slower. However, what she lacked in cycling speed she more than made up for with her wide-eyed perspective. Genuinely interested in getting her view of works to photograph and write about, I asked her to lead me to her favourites and tell me why she liked them more than any of the other brilliant works we saw.

We started down by the canal at Canalside Art, after a leisurely lunch at the Heritage Centre. Erin chose almost every painting of the dozen or so placed on easels around Janet’s garden for me to photograph,  but was in the red brick studio where she found her favourite painting – Pedro the rescue dog. “The doggy is cute and I like the colours in the background, they are calm and peaceful. The dog looks happy.” She stood observing Pedro as he sat obediently on his floor cushion, his eyes two shining Minstrels staring back at us from the canvas.

I wasn’t sure what an eight-year old would make of the haunting figures and sombre palette of Oliver Lovley, but as we ventured through the open front door on Burnham Avenue she was immediately drawn to the large square painting in the entrance hall. She noticed he had used “just three colours for the whole painting” and commented that “the tree looks really weird.” And she was right, there was something unsettling about that tree’s fractured form but at the same time it was elegantly beautiful.

We stood together and watched over it in silence for a short while before moving into the main room where Oliver was painting, surrounded by a large selection of his work.It took us a long time to get round them, captivated by the tiny painted figures captured in each frame.

It was clear that the bold colours of Oksana’s textile work would easily attract attention and Oksana herself was happy to share the process of rag rug making to a curious child. Naturally she loved the bright ‘fiery colours’ and found it difficult not to run her fingers over the pile, especially as she had seen the bag of fabric that was being used to make the rugs. However, it wasn’t until we pedalled our way to Red Lion Pottery that I felt my young companion was truly inspired.

Alan Birchall is always happy for visitors to pick up his pots and her little fingers were definitely enjoying exploring the different textures and patterns of his plates and bowls. She was particularly entranced by the collection of ceramics on the many shelves of his small studio. Pointing to a blue glazed bowl she declared, “ I like these pots because it’s like the ocean blue colours. It makes me … basically feel wooshing waves in my head. It reminds me of the sea.” I could picture the “ziggy-zaggy” pot she described and the “dabs of blue” on another as she flitted excitedly from shelf to shelf.

Zoe Zegzula’s textile toucans also caught the keen youngster’s eye but it was the panoramic landscape of lush olive grass velvet grass and spidery black trees that she requested I photograph. Again it seemed to be the variety of textures that interested her. On our last stop at Karen Attwood’s she elaborated on this further when stood looking up at one of Karen’s wet felted trees. “They have used lots of different fabrics and different colours of fabrics. It feels autumny because of the colours.”

It was rewardingly refreshing to view the artwork through a child’s eyes. We can learn a lot from their honest reactions and responses, maybe it IS simply beautiful because it is colourful.

Another lesson was also learned on that day, and that is how important it is to take your time to examine the details and look at the world again like everything is new and wonderful. Thank you Erin.

DU

Please note; the ABC Art Fair is on Sunday 10th October from 10-4pm at Attenborough Village Hall.

Craft, Create, Connect.

Beeston is such a hive of creativity! With so many resident artists and increasing opportunities to appreciate artwork we really are spoiled for inspiration. As soon as you alight at the Beeston Interchange you are just steps away from the street art murals that have enlivened some of our industrial buildings and added character to those of more historic value. Add in the painted telephone exchange boxes and we have an enviable street gallery to feast our eyes upon! The town also now houses one of the most accessible indoor exhibitions. Currently, in the old Argos local community projects and professional artists sit comfortably together in a window gallery of artistry worth shouting about – The Beeston Showcase.

If this public display of creative talent has fired your imagination, an obvious place to start picking up art and craft materials would be Artworks on the corner of Imperial Road. With shelves stacked with paints, inks and specialist papers they also have an extensive range of cardmaking and scrapbooking materials that would keep you busy until Christmas! They are looking to start their established weekly art classes back up in September.

The Young Artist’s Club was launched at Canalside Heritage Centre at the end of July. Low cost and allowing participants to explore a variety of different materials and techniques it is aimed at 8 to 12 year olds and ran weekly throughout the summer holidays.

Their ever popular Canalside Art Club also returns for the summer and can be accessed both in person or over Zoom.

Further down Chilwell Road you will find The Fabric Place, for those of us that prefer to sew than sketch. Just browsing the tempting collection of floor-to-ceiling fabric rolls is tantalising, especially at this time of year when their fruity summer fabrics are especially eye-catching. From curtains to bags to summer frocks, they have everything you need for your stitching projects. Bob tells us that are looking at introducing workshops later in the year so why not pop in and express your interest.

If you can’t find that finishing touch you are looking for, there’s always The Sewing Box further up the High Road on Willoughby Street, a definite top spot for trimmings! And if you are searching for craft kits, they have a selection to choose from to satisfy your creative cravings. They have a large range of fabric and wool too.

At teh Broadgate end of town is Pot ‘N’ Kettle Ceramic Café. A spacious place where your colour and imagination join forces to help you create your own special trinket or a personalised present for someone. If baking is more your thing then Beeston Baking School are running classes all summer from their outdoor venue on Cumberland Avenue. From rustic loaves to decorating techniques, Jill loves sharing her expertise and providing opportunities for a bit of experimentation with her tailormade sessions. We love her ‘Quintessential English Baking’ classes but then who doesn’t enjoy a freshly baked scone with jam and cream?

Down at Chilwell’s Independent Creative Corner, Cyrilyn invites you to join her in a personalised jewellery making session and be part of the whole process. If the joyful folk in her social media posts are anything to go by, this is often an amazing experience and fantastic fun! We adore the handmade wedding ring pics, but the one-off blue opal ring created by local lady Liz was an absolute stunner.

Larger organisations that serve our community well are Beeston Library, with their engaging family theatre productions and the annual Summer Reading Challenge. Lakeside Arts’ events for children take place in and around the Arts Theatre, with Art in the Park and Play in a Week.

As an added bonus, all the Arts Council funded activities have all been transferred online.

Log in for storytelling adventures, music sessions, craft activities, workshops, dance performances and a delightful digital book to evoke awe and wonder across the generations. Both venues are also well known to provide high end and community exhibitions that provide a little ambling time on lazier summer days.

There was so much creativity to be energised by in Beeston this summer and it will continue to inspire us well into autumn I am sure. I have not even mentioned the return of the ABC Art Trail or Incredible Edible Beeston! Why not follow the Creative Beeston Facebook page for updates on all of these and more?

Happy creating!

DU

Featured Artist – Oliver Lovley

Featured Artist – Oliver Lovley

If you were a frequenter of the Malt Cross BC (Before Covid) then you will undoubtedly come across posters advertising Oliver’s life drawing classes or indeed the man  himself immersed in a bit of live painting as the artist in residence. I can distinctly remember a slender grey jacketed man sketching at one of the pedestal tables, to a lively background of cheerfully chattering people enjoying the architecture and supping their fine ales.

It was great to have the opportunity to catch up with Oliver again in the newly refurbished Greenhood Coffee House this July and talk to him about his recent work, which appears to have gained momentum since live exhibitions have become a thing again. Although we met briefly when Oliver joined the ABC Art Trail back in 2019, recent events have curtailed networking in general so it’s taken time for our paths to cross again despite both of us living in Beeston. He shows me his sketch book of observational figure drawings as we chat over an excellent coffee, and explains the process as capturing just enough information to ‘describe the people’ – the act of studying subjects as his connection to the outside world.

Oliver was born in Grantham but his parents moved to Nottingham when he was a baby. They based themselves in Newark and were living in Keyworth by the mid-80s where Oliver grew up and went to school. Although his degree at Loughborough University was Illustration, his course prepared him well for a career as a fine artist with an almost military regime of daily drawing. Having ‘tried unsuccessfully to be an illustrator’ down in London, following the success of a short animation film described as ‘hauntingly beautiful by Brief Encounters Film Festival judges in 2002, a disillusioned Oliver returned to Nottingham. Although there were signs that he should continue to hone his craft, as the portrait of his father he submitted for the prestigious National Gallery BP Portrait Award that same year made it through to the final exhibition.

Back in Nottingham, Oliver spent his time painting the landscapes around Keyworth and Belvoir Castle. Many of his earlier paintings are small watercolours depicting the natural forms of trees, fields and hedges in muted shades. They are delicately beautiful in their luminosity. Building up a collection of paintings led Oliver to look for commercial opportunities and came across the well-established Arts and Craft Fairs run by Alan Woolley in Beeston and West Bridgford. Growing interest in his work gave Oliver all the encouragement he needed to continue painting and selling at local events, securing commissions as his popularity expanded.

Another great event for him was the rather magical Craft in the City. A festive fair created by Anna French, Oliver felt his work was appreciated and talks about the encouragement he received from Anna and the supportive creative network in Nottingham that he felt lucky to be part of. Rather than competing with each others for the spotlight, there exists always a sense of mutual respect for the talents of other creatives which empowers the whole movement.

Approaching the welcoming team at Malt Cross at the end of 2015 led to a progression from artist in residence to him being invited to exhibit a selection of his work in their gallery space the following summer. Although this was not Oliver’s first exhibition, he felt that he had learned a lot since returning to his old school and exhibiting work in 2011 which was a strange if positive experience and he sold some of his paintings, which was incredibly rewarding.

As a follower of Oliver on social media, I have been noticing his newer work and the much more figurative nature of his subjects. He refers back to what he was taught in his illustration degree about the ‘visual language’ of creating an image – ‘the marks you make are your signature.’ His detailed sketches inform his paintings and he has gathered plenty of material to build up convincing forms. He applies a thick slice of paint with the palette knife first to give the figures substance, then adds in the finer detail with a fine brush, fading them into the background as objects that are further away do in real life. He describes his art as ‘explaining what’s there and talking about the emotions involved.’ He observes the scene and uses his ‘visual language’ to build in the stories. And he builds these beautifully, in textured layers.

Oliver talks through the process of how Football Crowds 2 came into being, an hour or two on Trent Bridge, intently studying the mannerisms and translating them into a serious of meaningful marks on the pages of his sketchbook. Catching glimpses of poses enabled Oliver to recreate the tension in the everyday scene, of football fans impatiently waiting for entrance to a pivotal game – instantly recognised by a football fan as the Nottingham versus Derby match. Despite not being a football fan himself, he totally captured the essence of the passion supporters feel for their team and their club. I particularly like the spectral shape of Nottingham Forest Football ground in the top left of the painting. It hangs in the air, a historical landmark, its heritage etched on the city’s skyline. The slightly contorted figures discomforted and restless and sombre tones belie the nervy anticipation.

You might also be surprised to learn that as well as being a rather accomplished painter, Oliver is also the frontman of the band Dog Explosion  – his sidekick being a small but rather formidable looking stuffed dog. Dog Explosion is one of the sound affects on the synthesiser he uses to make music to accompany his generally explosive lyrics. A contrast to the way his paintings slowly manifest before your eyes, he describes his songs as more of an ‘announcement!’ An onomatopoeic assault of words tumbling forth, often an expression of ‘life and its many frustrations’ there is definitely the same resonance of discord in his art.

Described by Left Lion’s Bassey Easton as ‘the kinda sound Sleaford Mods would make if they were middle class executives living in 1984 and singing about ulcers caused by their stressful jobs in the City.” It’s definitely worth a listen!

Oliver teaches classes at Artworks and will be setting up a selection 0f his paintings alongside knitwear designer Oksana Holbrook on Burham Avenue in Attenborough for the Art Trail this year. As well as ABC Art Fair at Attenborough Village Hall on October 10th you will find a selection of his works at Cupola Gallery in Sheffield and at Lakeside Arts in the coming year.

Dog Explosion will be performing with Obi Rudo at The Chameleon in August and will be starring at OXJAM again later in the year.

www.oliverlovley.com

www.dogexplosion.co.uk

DU