Romance and Roses is an exhibition that draws upon artists' interpretations of love and romance. It continues until Saturday 25 February 2017. The Gallery and Dispensary Gallery are open from 10am to 4pm Tuesday to Saturday, admission is free, and all works are for sale - purchases should be made in the Shop.
This exhibition aims to present interpretations of that special something at a time of the year when people are turning their attention to matters of the heart, from the serenity and balance of Sarah Robley's Love Birds, to Mark A Pearce's tulip prints depicting stamens bursting beneath passionately coloured petals. From Gary Walsh's photographs depicting the bashful inability to look a loved one in the eye - when one finds oneself blushing and gazing at our shoes, to the flirtatious playfulness of Katie Edwards' True Love, the inescapable tumbling sensation of falling down a fantastical rabbit hole, as painted by Margaret Weavill, to the sensual fluidity of paint across the canvas of Jane Young's abstract painting, Love Flows... here is a selection of art that depicts how love and romance come in all shapes and sizes, introducing itself when least expected, taking one by surprise, and taking hold with an all consuming gush of inescapable emotion.
From a depiction of a quiet walk in the woods, a last Rolo, a remembered sunset, a single red rose, or a tender caress, there is no single way to describe the intangible sensation that means so many different things to so many different people. This notion of the multi-faceted nature of love, and the evolutionary behavior of love is perhaps best illustrated in Royden Astrop's oeuvre.
Taking the seemingly straightforward motif of a love heart Astrop uses transforms its simplicity into something a whole lot more complicated, and real. Constantly pushing the boundaries in his use and selection of materials, Royden Astrop’s alchemic art practice is innovative, experimental, and often very dangerous to make.
A self-taught artist, he works across different media constantly striving to invent new techniques to create highly original, powerful pieces of art work. Although the methods he uses are often extreme, the end results are beautiful, carefully considered, and intricately worked ethereal works of art. From painting with fire, sculpting with reclaimed barbed wire, to identifying the potential in the most difficult parts of wood to work with, Astrop’s oeuvre is truly unique.
The fire paintings shown in this exhibition are created using a single red pigment, all other shading and tonal structures are formed by the fire and soot deposits on the manipulated impasto paint and surface of the support. The final painting of a single heart is both striking and fragile, and can only hint at the extreme process that created it. Equally, the barbed wire sculptures that hang high in windows and overhead throughout The Witham are new works of art created for this exhibition, and were hung by Astrops' bleeding arms and punctured palms, lacerated by the process of working with such hostile material (he assured us that his tetanus was up to date!). In his previous career as a warzone TV news cameraman, Royden traveled extensively, and his experiences continue to influence both the explosive nature of his techniques, and the resulting beautiful abstracted interpretations of his subject matter.
All artists exhibiting in this exhibition are regional. By investing in high quality, original artwork, you are supporting both The Witham arts centre, and the local economy.
by Sarah Mayhew Craddock
Visual Arts Coordinator at The Witham