number 43 oxford street
station gallery and the garden room

WILCOTE ART - group show

28th May to 20th June 2021

Darl-e and the Bear are proud to present our upcoming exhibition of 14 artists
from the Wilcote Art Studios
please join us for a glass of champagne at our

Private View on 27th May 5 to 9pm - all welcome

Marie Boyle . Peter Child . Karen Fern . Bevan Fox . Richard Fox . Katie Hellon
Laraine Jones . Jennifer Newman . Mary Knowland . Laura Middleton
Nimmi Naidoo . Karen Purple . Imogen Rigden . Alex Smith

Upon passing through No: 4 a secret green door you enter into the magical world of the Wilcote Art studios. They are a group of Oxfordshire artists who work at the edge of Topples Wood, part of the ancient Royal Hunting Forest of Wychwood.
Since 2015 their community has gradually grown; they now include painters, sculptors, ceramicists, jewellery makers, makers of sound-art and installation artists.

Nestled alongside these ancient trees in wooden studios the resident artists work as individuals and also collaborate in creating socially-engaged works, including artworks that have a positive effect on communities, which include links with Bridewell Organic Gardens.

As part of their working ethos within the community the studios have two artists in residence ‘The Mappists’ are Flora Gregory and Nimmi Naido, who have devised Being in the Wychwood, artwork of two complimentary parts - Come into the Woods offers sensory experiences in woodland that encourages a connection with the forest, and Make your Mark is participatory mapping of the Wychwood Forest that informs people about how they can access the forest. Come into the Woods has taken place in Topples Wood, part of the Wychwood Forest and the Priory, Charlbury. Make your Mark has been at Wilcote Art studios and the Wychwood Forest Fair.

Founding member Sculptor Richard Fox describes it as ‘entering a world of creativity and focused energy, a supportive environment that connects directly and nestles within the natural world. Its position on the edge of woodland on the Wilcote estate gives a sense of being in and part of nature. There is a shared journey of creativity amongst the artists each having had different life experiences influencing their practice. This leads to interesting work collaborations, conversations and views about the work and how living a life that involves making art might work’.

The Artists Included in our exhibition are:

Marie Boyle studied Graphic Design at the Ecole Superieure des Arts Modernes in Paris.
She is now a multidisciplinary artist, whose interest lies in working with shapes and edges which she explores through different mediums such as ceramics, painting, photography and sculpture.
Boyle describes her practice as theraputic, the responsiveness to stimulation of sense and touch, the Tactility in ‘building shape’ whether it be from scraping away excess clay until she is satisfied with the shape or the joy of using paint to sculpt shapes on the two dimensional picture plane of a painting, all help her create diverse and unique artworks.

Peter Child is a designer jeweller, working as a member of the Wilcote Arts Studios since 2018.
The opportunity to create hand-made bespoke craftwork using precious metals, within this dynamic and interactive group is a wonderful step on after retiring from running an Art Foundation Course and jewellery workshop. Peter’s work explores the material properties of a range of metals and precious stones using traditional techniques applied to contemporary designs. Recent work has revisited the use of colour using iron, titanium and stones, he is fascinated by the effects of reflection and texture on surfaces, factettes and curves.
The simple lines and minimalism of this angular work belies a wearability and functionality which often surprises. Peter explores traditional imagery but offers a twist through application of his design skills. Illusion and hidden spaces influence his range of Boxes and the viewer can be tricked into believing that flat boxes are almost real. Theses are available as earrings, brooches and necklaces. More elaborate still are illusions of boxes which function as secret containers and are inspired by the concept of Victorian memorial jewellery where these secret spaces are hidden in plain sight. These can be worn as necklace, brooch or functional container for pocket or drawer.

Nestled in the rolling hills of West Oxfordshire, Karen Fern handcrafts simple, individual ceramics from her studio in the woods. Vessels are made to be cherished and to nudge us to connect with the little moments in life. Whether it is ‘hugging’ a handcrafted mug of morning coffee or enjoying supper from a beautifully glazed bowl; it’s the little things ~ simple, beautiful, mindful moments.

Richard Fox’s sculptural work deals with the abstract form, both of the sculpture and the space within. Working with bronze, stone and wood he is interested as to see how the different materials affect and inform the final piece. Richard's sculptures that are on a base can be rotated, this gives a life to the sculpture as the viewer connects and engages with the different views. Richard has been working as a sculptor for 14 years and sells his work through galleries, interior design consultants and has also taken on site specific commissions.

Conceptual artist Katie Hellon is a multi-disciplinary artist, exploring growth and transformation. There is a strong element of drawing in what she makes, whether it is performance, installation, video, sculpture or print and she often uses strict rules, chance and audience participation. It is during the process of the making and generating an energy that is where she finds ‘the not knowing what will happen next’, exciting. She loses and finds herself repeatedly in a meditative, in-between state. It is a rhythm in sound and movement, which gives the work a performative quality.

Laraine Jones’ stoneware, sculptural ceramic forms are developed from her fascination with the negative spaces observed within natural landscapes, especially between the bare branches of trees and the stems of plants. These forms themselves can become the catalyst for further ceramic pieces, utilising the new negative spaces left behind when the design is cut from the slab. The surface decoration on the forms is textured and painterly and aims to portray elements of one or more of the following: concealment, migration, abandonment, weather, and temperature. Each piece is unique, and is hand built using stoneware clay. The clay in parts is scored, impressed, at times broken or has relief decoration applied. Colour is explored through leaving exposed areas of clay, under-glazes, and dry stoneware glazes to create a painting on a ceramic, three-dimensional canvas.

Originally a professional potter working and selling ceramics in London venues such as Heals and liberty, and latterly teaching ceramics, art and textiles Mary Knowland’s work has begun to return to her drawing and painting roots, complemented by a recent return to ceramics at the Wilcote Art Studios. Here she is enjoying experimenting with different materials, techniques and currently employing cool, wintry hues as decoration. Mary still loves working with the cool tones of this pared down palette and current ceramics reflect this interest and affiliation. Thinking through the possibility of winter and ice as a theme for ceramics, it fascinates her that earth, ie clay, can be solidified both by freezing wintry conditions and by the very high temperatures of the kiln.

The paintings that Laura Middleton produces have always been inspired by nature and ecology. Fascinated by the complexity of the structures, energy and movement within a grassy meadow or woodland with it's tangle of leaves and branches, even the humble roadside verge and our internal and external relationship with our natural environment.
The gilded panel paintings are made using collected plants and grasses pressed into plaster. They are then gilded and patinated with pigments and oil glazes. Celebrating nature as both delicate and precious. Laura’s small abstract landscapes are drawn from life but also the memory of the immersive aspect of being surrounded by nature, using watercolours and charcoal onto gesso panels.

Established on geological examination and contemplation, Jennifer Newman’s work reflects on the experience of her forefathers and their decision to leave Europe and settle in Cape Town in the late 1800’s and again after WWI. Both great grandfathers of Newman’s mother’s family, decided that they would live on Robben Island in the early 1900’s.
Known so famously for Nelson Mandela’s 27 years incarceration, the remarkable man who had such depth and forgiveness. Studying ceramics inspired Newman to become a mixed media artist who is fascinated by different processes and the layering of minerals, oils, pigments, patenting precious metals and use of crushed raw semi and precious stones. Creating trapped moments in time and exposing precious things that have been hidden. Newman entices the viewer to be drawn into what
the surface has experienced, even
them wanting to touch it.

‘Through time and pressure beauty is created, we mine the soul to find the precious things. We have to bring it to the surface. Life refines and polishes our history and the choice we make. Our layers and compartments are filled with experiences and memories. My love of earth and clay has influenced all my art in the use of texture and form.’

Nimmi Naidoo is a site-responsive artist. Her practice is one of close-noticing.
She garners details; the questions and perceptions that arise through this process become her materials. This way of working, from inside to outside, loosens the ties to a particular medium. She has created text-based works, live performance, sound-art, videos and installations, she asks us to pay attention, to be alive to wherever we are, to do some close-noticing of our own. Her studio nestles under the beech trees of Topples Wood, recently during 2020, in ‘Lockdown’, unable to travel, her studio has became her site.
With the earthy smell of frost surrounding her, she has mused on soil, star-dust and humans as a continuous part of the natural world. She is currently busy making pigment from the earth and from plant material.
Naidoo in collaboration with artist Jill Green, as part of Oxfordshire Artweeks have produced _hung_out_to_dry_ a tribute to all key workers who have died of Covid 19.

Karen Purples’ work is deeply rooted in the landscape and her local environment of rural Oxfordshire. She is interested in how her relationship with the natural world is mediated through memory, of what is remembered and of what is lost. Each returning visit to a familiar theme or subject brings a greater understanding of what that experience means. It could be about how the influence of light and colour appear on the surface of her vision or about a searching for things through the act of painting that can be felt but can’t be seen. It may be about a flash of an image that was just at the edge of her sightline or a reflection of something that was elusive and difficult to grasp.

Found substances and responses find their way onto and into the surfaces of her canvas. The real stuff of the landscape (ochre pigments, burnt charcoal, lichen stains and plant material for example) act as an aide memoir and provoke the beginnings of how a painting may begin.
The artist works in cycles, which often are to do with the influence of the Season. A series of paintings will progress until they reach a natural conclusion for the present moment. Some paintings may then be worked over at a later date and others remain in the time that they were made. She looks to the poet or composer’s method of constructing rhythm and pauses, repetition and pattern. Her paintings become arenas from which there are concerns about accumulation and connection, of emphasis and articulation of the paint. Purple is creating a personal visual language that embodies a particular experience of being in the world, a distillation and reflection of the familiar. The resulting work emerges from a mixture of recall and the imagined, of process and materiality.

Imogen Rigden is an experimental multimedia artist. Her work is often rule-based and concept-led, producing series over months, even years; recording the beauty and inestimable value of unplanned, unmolested environments where non-human life thrives. In the last year Rigden has been making work using rain and windstorms, enabling the process and adding marks in the studio in the days that follow. Rigden takes inspiration from winter, owing to its wild weather, clarity and intricacy of shapes that are revealed when leaves fall.

Alex Smith has worked for over thirty five years as a paint specialist for fine interiors. He is now producing more site specific work to commission. These decorative panels are inspired by Japanese gilded screens of the 18th Century.