I need to apologise for getting Margaret Harrison’s name mixed up with Margaret Smith’s in my report about last summer’s Seamer Village Art Competition. It was indeed Margaret Smith who organized that lovely day and invited CAS to participate. Brownie points to Sandra Hill for spotting the mistake!
We ended 2015 with a “working with clay” session and those members who thought clay was not for them particularly, discovered they really enjoyed experimenting with it. We have had some very productive working sessions with clay and it will be repeated in the future certainly; I have all sorts of ideas personally I want to try out. Two meetings and tours of mima on consecutive Saturdays in December were excellent. The CAS group was small but breakfast at the cafe began things nicely and our members had a good chat with mima staff and took in the successful “Localism” exhibition. I had a lot of explaining to do to Ken Hornby about my two big canvases, “If That’s What They Call Art!...” Ken was rightfully pulling my leg and we had a chuckle over a lot of modern art myths, confusion, etc, and we agreed it is important for artists to articulate the meaning behind pieces of work if it’s required. The fun of our Christmas party closed the year and I would like to thank Daphne for her art themed game and for everyone’s food and drink. contributions!
Mono Printing was stalled in January because Denise Thompson, who was to lead, had injured her back; so we send our best wishes for a speedy recovery. Our General Secretary, Suzie, is in the grip of illness too and has suffered stoically behind the scenes for months - we miss you both ladies! Brenda Morley and Treasurer Daphne stepped up as costume models in our first month back – I’m keeping my eye on Mike Featherstone’s portraits because he’s done some of the best in the society consecutively for a number of years, though on the scene now in the group is the exceptional work by relative new-comers, Ivan, Adam and Matthew – we have onboard some amazing talent!
A small rapid reaction force assembled in a Newcastle city centre pub for brunch on a January Saturday morning to catch “The People’s Show” – an exhibition of 2 and 3 dimensional work staged at the University Gallery of Northumbria. We had to act fast before it ended and concluded our friend from M’bro - the ace illustrator and tutor, Graham Canwell - was our chosen winner from the exh’. He had painted a superb close-up portrait in profile of CAS member Ivan Woods and possessed not only fine descriptive observation, but a quality which we thought could comfortably sit in any top London gallery. We moved onto the wonderful old Hatton Gallery which had pulled out its permanent collection and we were quite blown away with this hidden treasure trove and I saw some of the best portraits I think I’ve seen in my life there. And finally, Jon Sephton directed us to an artist’s collective in Eldon Sq. It is a gallery, reminiscent of ArtsBank, stuffed with work of all different shapes and sizes and seems to be a cross-section of Tyne and Wear current art names. “North East Art Collective” can be found on the upper floor next to Level 7 Car Park Exit.
Vice-Chairman, Brian Collins opened his first solo exhibition at Kirkleatham’s spacious Pavilion, which I regard as their best space, and with the help of his daughter has gained online and printed media coverage. This coverage began when BBC Tees picked up on his painting, “Betrayed “ - a phalanx of Spartan warriors and Redcar’s blast furnace in a composition symbolizing the collapse of the steel industry. They highlighted it on their social media page and helped start Brian’s involvement on Facebook. Please check-out his page and LIKE it. This extraordinary exh’ of Brian’s work colleagues in their industrial environments runs into April and should be seen by all members. Remember the museum is closed Mondays!
Bringing us close to the end of February, we challenged ourselves with wide brush “drawing”, to get us away from being too fine with the pencil for instance, followed by a perspective drawing test organized by Daphne when she brought in what can only be described as a model village of cardboard houses and buildings for members to recreate convincing and accurate studies of angles and receding lines... examples, I feel, of engaging activities we excel at as a friendly art group. Our classroom at Macmillan allows for those who want to be involved in practical exercises and for those who prefer to complete personal work as well.
As a postscript to my report, I would like to mention, Jean Carmichael organised a very moving meeting with four relatives of ex-member Ronnie Durrans; Treasurer Daphne and I were in attendance. Ronnie had been a loyal member in what I term, the black’n’white days of the society. His membership stretched from, I think, the mid-‘50s up to around the end of the 1990s; he was 95 when he died last August! Further information about Ronnie and the “old” society will be revealed on another occasion, but our meeting rewarded us with a collection of his drawings and paintings, some of which I am going to frame and include in forthcoming CAS exhibitions. Information we are learning from his family will help furnish our eventual art society improved history book publication.