Blue II, a collaborative exhibiton from 10 Somerset-based artists, previewed at Rook Lane on Friday. Over 100 revellers rocked up to check out the Somerset Art Weeks exhibition, whilst sipping wine and chin-wagging with other art-enthusiasts.
The theme of the exhibition is ‘blue’ and the art work is inspired by an 18th-century dyers woad recipe book from Wallbridge Mill. Each take on the book is imaginative and vastly contrasting to the next.
‘Blue’ for Bronwen Bradshaw conjures memories of her late dog – Blue, whilst Sarah Truscott has worked the blue of the night sky into her textiles work – which is hanging from the ceiling at the entrance to the gallery.
Carolyn Griffiths has created midnight blue glasswork, which sits atop plinths – allowing natural light to illuminate the two boxes. Ellie Swinhoe is exhibiting hand-crafted silver jewellery, clad with bulging blue stones. Nicki Knowles is showing a series of charcoal drawings, inspired by the Somerset riverbeds, where the woad plant grows. And Ros Ford has hung a selection of scenic paintings and etchings – a mixture of botanical and architectural takes on Merchants Barton – key to the textiles industry in Frome.
Duncan Elliott’s sculptures have, arguably, the most abstract connection to the theme of blue – sourcing stones which come from the ancient ocean and therefore ‘out of the blue’. And they have already received many a compliment from gallery visitors. The stone sculptures seemingly defy gravity – leaning at precarious angles and reaching delicate limbs out in theatrical gestures.
Each stone in Elliott’s sculptures looks as if it’s been chiselled carefully to represent the anatomical part it resembles. But it hasn’t. He hunts for particular stones to portray particular parts – discarding, dismembering, retreiving and replacing stones in order to build up a perfectly poised statue.
Jennie Gilling, a gardener as well as artist, has brought a selection of cyanotypes to the chapel – created using found plants and placing them on paper, dipping them in chemical mixes and then letting the sun react with the chemicals to leave prints of the plants on the paper. Quite fascinating.
Pauline Watson has an array of beautiful ceramic bowls, books and pots lined up on shelves and Sue Conrad has adorned the far right corner of the chapel with her abstract paintings.
This exhibition has, deservedly, been showered with rave reviews from visitors:
‘One of the most impressive shows Frome has ever been treated to – wonderful range of work and a theme that works. Congratulations to all who have worked so hard to realise this exhibition.’ Duncan
‘This will demand a repeat visit’ Tracey
‘Blue without the blues. Marvellous! Ruth
Well done to Carolyn, who has organised and curated the exhibition, and to all the artists who’ve offered their impressive art work to be displayed at Rook Lane.