These historic buildings present a beautiful backdrop to wedding and birth ceremonies. The Mansion is a Grade II listed 16th century building, with a gorgeous façade of red brick in Flemish bond.
The Council informed me recently that across their offices, they hold an estimated 1,800 ceremonies each year.
The public are welcome to visit the offices to view my artwork, where the Council are promoting me as a Surrey Artist.
A few original oil paintings and limited edition prints are on show for the public in the ceremony rooms and entrance at Artington House, Guildford. Limited edition prints are on display in the ceremony rooms and waiting area at Rylston, Weybridge, and in the spacious waiting room overlooking the garden at The Mansion, Leatherhead. The artwork is available to buy.
This solo exhibition has a special place in my heart as the Surrey County Council awarded me the Surrey Art Award in 2005 for my school project on Vanishing Cultures; this award was a wonderful, unexpected, surprise, as my school entered me into the competition without my knowledge.
I am currently working on a few original paintings of the register offices, which will then be put on permanent display. The original or print may provide a lovely memento to celebrate a wedding or birth.
The first painting I am working on is of the wisteria enveloping the exterior of Artington House in Guildford. The below image shows a section of the painting:
I am currently balancing a few projects, however once I have completed this painting, I will focus on Rylston and The Mansion.
You are welcome to attend this special solo show; the register offices can be found at the following locations:
‘Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.’ Leonardo da Vinci
I recently had the pleasure of attending ‘Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing,’ at Southampton City Art Gallery, which ran from 1 February to 6 May 2019.
To mark 500 years since his death, 144 of the renaissance master’s greatest drawings in the Royal Collection were on display simultaneously at 12 exhibitions across the UK, part of a nationwide event to give the widest ever UK audience the opportunity to see his work.
At his death in 1519, Leonardo bequeathed his drawings and notebooks to his pupil Francesco Melzi. In 1580, the sculptor Pompeo Leoni acquired Leonardo’s drawings from Melzi’s son and mounted them on two albums, one of which was in England by 1630, in the Earl of Arundel’s collection. Within fifty years the album entered the Royal Collection, having been acquired by King Charles II, possibly as a gift. The drawings were removed from the album during Queen Victoria’s reign and mounted individually. In the twentieth century, many were stamped with Edward VII’s cipher. Housed securely in the Queen’s vaults at Windsor Castle for three successive centuries, these intricate drawings reveal an unparalleled insight into Leonardo’s investigations and the workings of his mind.
Arguably one of the world’s most recognisable and revered names in the history of art, Leonardo da Vinci is without a doubt a tour de force of creativity and artistic genius that has surpassed his own era. Leonardo was a polymath and epitomised the ideal of the renaissance man and the French ‘rebirth’, displaying exceptional talent and an effortless ability to adapt and excel in every discipline he set his mind to.
Twelve selected drawings in the exhibition at Southampton City Gallery reflected the range his interest, from sculpture, painting, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, geology, botany and cartography; each exquisite drawing was recorded meticulously in pen and ink, red and black chalks, watercolour and metalpoint. All his drawings were executed on paper made from pulped clothing rags.
New information into Leonardo’s techniques and creative processes has been made possible by scientific research using non-invasive techniques including ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence.
Leonardo’s preparatory drawings and sketches were never intended to be seen by the public and he would probably be surprised people would want to see them. Even his writings and descriptions scrawled onto pulped clothing are almost inscrutable, being written in mirror form, from right to left. However it is believed he did this so as to not smudge the ink.
Leonardo da Vinci’s view of the world was expansive, he was never limited and this drove him to excel in many areas of learning. The artist believed adamantly in visual evidence being more persuasive than academic argument, and an image could convey knowledge with more accuracy than words.
Leonardo spent hours studying nature and botanical details whilst in his surroundings in Vinci, Italy. His ability to grasp the principles of art and science, and his insight into the human soul, spirit and body, captured the spirit of the times when great advancements were being made and pioneering technology developed.
Through careful attention to detail, Leonardo deftly blended mathematics and art into ideal proportions. In Vitruvian man, Leonardo demonstrated his deep understanding of proportions and of the workings of the human body as an analogy of the workings of the universe, uncovering both the ideal symmetry and beauty of the human body mirroring that of the universe. His designs for Vitruvian man were inspired by the ancient Roman architect, Vitruvius and his work on the perfect proportions in architecture and the human body. I like how Leonardo has portrayed the Vitruvian man’s wavy, flowing hair, his expression wild and intense, and his muscular body perfectly poised against the edges of the circle.
Through the ages, the artist has depicted the zeitgeist, the spirit of the times. Their vision of the world has always been like that of a prophet; their extensive time spent in nature and observing detail has given them a deeper level of spiritual understanding of the universe. The very act of drawing and painting is an extension of divine creativity and spiritual expression made tangible.
Leonardo’s preference for a subtle rendering of expression, refined use of shading and changes in tone that is not quite visible is reflected in his art, from the slight smile of the Mona Lisa to the transcendent gaze of the Salvator Mundi, with Christ looking directly into the viewer’s soul. Leonardo captured the human body in a way that revealed their spirit, the individual can never quite be grasped, it evades description and understanding.
In the summer of 2019 (24 May to 13 October), all 144 drawings will be gathered together in a single collection at The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace, London, followed by a selection of works at The Queen’s Gallery in the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh, in the winter of 2019-2020.
‘Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land.’ Song of Songs 2:12
I am thrilled to be exhibiting at the National Trust’s Leith Hill’s inaugural open call gallery exhibition every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday, 11am-5pm, from 3rd May to 30th June 2019.
Entitled ‘Awakening,’ the exhibition celebrates the arrival of spring at Leith Hill Place and the beautiful surroundings of Leith Hill, part of the Surrey area of outstanding natural beauty.
My original framed oil painting, ‘Bluebell Woods at Leith Hill,’ is available for sale, alongside limited edition prints. It is featured at the start of the exhibition. I feel extremely honoured that the National Trust have used my painting to promote the exhibition on their website.
‘Awakening’ exhibition on Leith Hill’s website, featuring my oil painting.
58 artists submitted entries, however only 31 were selected for the exhibition. The artists I am displaying my work alongside include printmakers, sculptors, painters, ceramicists and jewellery makers, resulting in a wide variety of art on view at the gallery. The majority of the work is for sale. The exhibition is being held in the drawing room upstairs, with glorious views overlooking the countryside.
As a member of the National Trust, I feel very honoured to be participating in their first open call exhibition. I have thoroughly enjoyed exploring their properties and walks over the years, and have never tired of returning to favourite places. It’s also a delight to discover new ones.
For readers outside the UK who may not be familiar with the organisation, the National Trust was founded in 1895 to look after and conserve special places of historic and environmental interest and heritage throughout England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Leith Hill Place was bequeathed to the National Trust by one of England’s greatest composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams, in 1945. Vaughan Williams grew up at Leith Hill Place from the age of two until he was twenty, when he left to study at Cambridge. His violin composition, The Lark Rise Ascending, has twice been voted as the nation’s favourite classical piece of music. He also favoured folk music, and folk singing evenings are regularly held at the house.
Leith Hill Place was home to Ralph Vaughan Williams’ grandparents, Josiah Wedgwood III and Caroline (née Darwin), who moved here in 1847. His great uncle, the famous naturalist Charles Darwin, was Caroline’s brother, and conducted experiments in the grounds.
Josiah Wedgwood III was the grandson of potter, Josiah Wedgwood, who founded the Wedgwood company in 1759, specialising in fine china, porcelain, and luxury accessories. A strong academic and musical influence has remained at the house to this day.
For nearly 40 years since Vaughan Williams bequeathed Leith Hill Place to the National Trust, the building had been tenanted as a school boarding house. In summer 2013, it was opened to the public for the first time since the 1960s.
The 16th century palladian style house is only open on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday each week, as well as Bank Holiday Mondays. The house is closed to the public throughout the week, however there are special workshops for those interested in art, history, music and theatre.
In the month of June, there are sculpture workshops, folk singing evenings, willow weaving, life drawing classes, architectural talks, baking classes, stone carving and outdoor theatre, to name a few.
With its stunning setting overlooking the Surrey Hills, the gallery exhibition, alongside other events at Leith Hill Place, is set to be a fantastic spring/summer day out in the countryside. Unique to the house, there is a working kitchen, where fresh cakes and scones are baked on the premises, giving a warm welcome to travellers and walkers.
I would also recommend visiting the exhibition downstairs, ‘Minding the Women: reflecting Caroline Wedgwood,’ which has researched the life of Caroline Wedgwood, thought to have been the driving force behind planting the woodland garden on Leith Hill in the mid 1800s. My friend, contemporary printmaker/installation artist and founder of the award winning Ochre Print Studio, Julie Hoyle, is displaying her beautiful prints alongside Leith Hill Place’s current artist in residence, sculptor Philippa Hall, until 30th June. Julie was artist in residence in the summer of 2018.
Leith Hill Place and its exhibitions are free to visit for National Trust members, however admission charges do apply for non members.
I’m honoured to have been invited by my friend, internationally renowned Burmese artist Min Wae Aung, to join him in an art exhibition celebrating the centenary birth year of Saya U Thu Kha (1918-2007), a seminal figure in the arts movement in Myanmar and a teacher of Min Wae.
The exhibition, comprised of international artists, will take place at The Strand Hotel (Ballroom) in Yangon, from 13-15 November 2018.
My work has actually been held at Min Wae’s gallery, the New Treasure Art Gallery in Yangon since the beginning of August 2018 before it is exhibited at The Strand.
Thank you to Min Wae, who provided the biographical information and resources related to this article on Saya U Thu Kha.
SAYA U THU KHA
Born Muang Thu Kha on 11 November 1918, his family lived in the west end of Yangon and owned a food stall at Scott Market, now renamed Bo Gyoke Market. His parents, U Pu and Daw Mya Hnit had no artists among their ancestors but they were related to those involved in art; his mother was a niece of Daw Mya Shwe, a cousin of Daw Mya May, the wife of a commissioner who strongly supported the art movement and is known as the Mother of Myanmar art.
Whilst under British colonialism in 1910, nationalism and political awareness began to take root in Myanmar, propelling literature and the arts into the 1920s. Various national newspapers hired Myanmar illustrators, increasing public awareness of the art movement. After the country’s first strike, Daw Mya May and her husband U Hla Aung opened a Buddhist Middle school for boys on Pagoda Road in Yangon and one for girls on Canal Street; U Thu Kha attended his great aunt’s Buddhist Middle School for boys when he was of school age. Whilst studying, his growing interest in the arts could not be contained. He broke school rules during 6th grade by covering the school’s freshly painted latrine walls with his drawings which resulted in a harsh caning from his teacher that was so severe the school doctor was called and he spent the next three days to recover. Upon his return, he explained to the teacher that his passion for art compelled him to paint. Seemingly regretful, his teacher immediately wrote a note for Muang Thu Kha giving him permission to attend classes at the Burma Art Club and become a life member until 1928 without paying any fees. It seems this incident had unexpectedly opened a door to his future.
In pre-war years, Muang Thu Kha was the general secretary of the art club of the State High School for four years. He entered the annual competition for art, crafts and technology held at the Jubilee Hall in Shwedagon Pagoda Road, and won gold medals and prizes every year; he also exhibited in artist group shows sponsored by U Ba Nyan at the Burma Art Club. Aside from painting, he was a talented sportsman, playing football, basketball and boxing. His father’s uncle was a famous athlete of the time, U Ba Than (Sando).
He became a teacher in 1938, passing the examination held by the all Burma Education and Information Department. After independence in 1948, he became a member of the newly established Artists and Sculptors Union. He was the in-house illustrator of the English-language version of the New Times of Burma and the weekly Business Review in 1950. In 1952, he participated in an art exhibition held on the premises of the Rangoon Gazette Press on Bo Aung Kyaw Street (now the offices of Myanmar Times), at the Sarpay Beikhman Art Exhibition in 1959 and later at the annual art exhibition held at the Envoy Hall (now the Tatmadaw Hall) by the National Art and Sculpture Council.
In 1963 he was inaugurated as an instructor at the Yangon State School of Fine Arts, later becoming a principle until his retirement in 1984. He was known to be very patient, teaching his students basic skills and anatomy, emphasising their need to draw first in pencil before using colours. Whether they were good or bad, he treated his students as friends, often buying them tea, meals or a bus fare. In 1972, he studied block printing and mosaic in Germany and then toured Egypt. Whilst he was teaching at the SSFA Yangon, he was also taking classes at the Rangoon University Art Club. Until his death, he served as the patron of the Traditional Artists and Artisans association. In 1997 he was awarded an honorary professorship by the Department of Fine Arts.
When his student, Min Wae Aung, opened the New Treasure Art Gallery, U Thu Kha acted as patron, coming there to paint regularly until his very last days. After suffering a brain haemorrhage in 2000, he came three days a week to the gallery, painting every time he came.
Aside from painting, he wrote articles and books on art. One well received publication was his translated book ‘International Methods of Figure Drawing,’ complete with illustrations.
A popular teacher, his students had begun paying homage to him through an annual Homage ceremony to Elder Artists from 1978 until 2006, twenty nine years in total. Initially they went to his house but later changed the venue to the New Treasue Art Gallery after it was established.
Saya U Thu Kha is known to be one of two Burmese artists, the other Saya U Thein Han, to teach art well into their retirement years. Compelled by the desire to further the arts in Myanmar, both artists opened private classes after retiring from teaching.
Many of his students achieved fame, including Min Wae Aung, Thein Shwe Kyi, Win Thaw, Ngwe Kyi, Shwe Min Thar, Zaw Min and Aung Min Thein amongst others.
U Thu Kha passed away in 2007 at the age of 89 and is survived by his wife Daw Khin Ohn and their eleven children. Long may his legacy continue.
My contribution to the exhibition is a 1m oil painting on canvas board, entitled
I’m delighted to share that the Environment Trust has held another fantastic Secret Art Sale. 234 artists anonymously donated a record making 375 A5 sized artworks to the sale; more than half were sold by lunchtime on the first day, with many visitors queuing for several hours before the doors opened.
Over £13,000 was made over two days on 21-22 September, which is a substantial increase from the first Secret Art Sale held by the Trust at the RACC last year. All proceeds benefit the charity’s work in local wildlife and environmental conservation across south west London, in particular supporting their work enabling wildlife corridors.
Results from last year are covered in my previous blog alongside a more in depth look at wildlife corridors and the themes covered in the Secret Art Sale so far.
I arrived at the event in Parkshot, Richmond, towards the end of the Private View on the first day and was thrilled to see that my own oil painting had already sold.
Donations were made by architects, artists, celebrities, students, jewelers and RA members. Wildlife photographer and the Trust’s patron, Gordon Buchanan donated an artwork, as well as another much admired patron, the Gruffalo artist, Axel Scheffler.
You can view all the revealed artists from the 2017 sale here, see if you can spot my contribution!
A close up of all the individual panels displaying the artworks are now available to view on Flikr.
I’m very pleased to have heard from the art collector who bought my painting and revealed they were excited to have it framed and displayed prominently in their home.
I look forward to donating another art work next year, I hope you can join us and support a great cause!
‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ Aesop
I’m delighted to have been asked to participate for the second year running in the Environment Trust’s Secret Art Sale. This is a two day art exhibition with a twist, where acclaimed artists, jewellers, photographers, architects, scientists and art students all contribute an A5 painting anonymously. Each painting is priced at £35.00, giving you the opportunity to purchase an original work of art by a renowned artist or celebrity at an affordable price. Only once the artwork has been purchased will the name of the artist be revealed! Most importantly, all proceeds benefit the charity’s conservation work in educating and encouraging communities to protect our natural environment and green spaces for posterity, particularly in urban areas. Submissions for 2017 can be viewed here. The artist biographies are also now on the website.
I posted my A5 oil painting at the local post office in the picturesque village, Bourton-On-The-Water, whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds. This is me beside the post office in Bourton’s exquisite model village, built in 1937 and an exact miniature replica of Bourton- a masterpiece by some very talented artists and craftsmen!
Each year, the Secret Art Sale has a unique theme to support the charity’s conservation work. With 24% of Greater London made up of private gardens, the 2016 exhibition was aimed at heightening the awareness of the importance of gardens as a vital resource and habitat for wildlife. The event saw contributions from the Environment Trusts patron, Gordon Buchanan, as well as Quentin Blake, Alan Titchmarsh, Nobel Prize Laureate Sir Paul Nurse, and Axel Scheffler- the Gruffalo artist and another patron of the charity. I’m happy to share that 90% of the paintings on display last year were sold and over £7000 was made, which has been a fantastic asset to their conservation work. The funds generated enabled them to work directly with school, local communities, and others to highlight the use of gardens and other green spaces in urbanised areas as habitat that will encourage the return of once common species such as the hedgehog. You can read more about last years event on their blog. You can also view the paintings and revealed artists from 2016 here.Continue reading “The Environment Trust: Secret Art Sale, 22-23 Sept 2017”
‘It doesn’t matter where you go, it’s who you travel with.’ Anonymous
I’m excited to announce that I have recently signed with New York based art agency, Art UpCLOSE! They are a pioneering art marketing company who will be showcasing my paintings digitally via flatscreen at events in Monaco, Miami and New York. Modern technology has revolutionised the art market and I’m looking forward to promoting my paintings and drawings in niche markets worldwide using their company strategy.
Our first destination will be the exclusive Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) for the ultra luxury market in Monte Carlo on 27-30 September 2017, under the high patronage of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco. MYS has been set in the iconic Port Hercules of the Principality of Monaco since 1991 and is the only place to admire and purchase around 125 extraordinary one-off yachts built by the world’s most respected shipyards. 580 companies and partners participate in MYS among the world’s leading brands, designers and luxury manufacturers. Art UpCLOSE have been selected as the only company representing art at this unique event and will be exhibiting my paintings and drawings, alongside other artists work, during daily private receptions held in the Artifact booth at the new Starboard Pavilion, next to Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls Royce.
“We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow , to love. And then we return home.” Australian Aborigine Proverb
August 9, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the UN Declaration of the rights of indigenous people around the world. It was a landmark decision to actively protect the 370 million people that make up the worlds population of indigenous cultures, including the Inuit of the High Arctic, the Eagle Hunters of Mongolia, the Dayak of Borneo, the Honey Hunters in Nepal, the Tuareg people of the Sahara desert, the Australian Aborigines, the Polynesian Maori of New Zealand, the First Nations of America, the Sami tribe in Scandinavia and the myriad of nomadic hunters and semi-nomadic pastoralists and hunter/gatherers around the world. This number may only total 5 per cent of the global population, but the unique contribution these people make to our world far exceeds that number in terms of cultural diversity, knowledge enrichment, sustainable development, enhancing scientific knowledge and tackling climate change.
Indeed, environmental conservation paired with the intellectual legacy of humanity has never been so crucial. With a myriad of challenges currently threatening the planet, including climate change and depleting global resources, this present time is a pivotal opportunity to actively protect indigenous peoples and learn from them. Not only will learning from them help to protect our environment, but recognizing their different histories, ways of life and traditions will help us to reject a generic modern culture, faced with the seemingly inexorable progression of technological advancement and globalisation. Alarmingly, out of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken on earth, one language becomes extinct every fourteen days. My project, ‘Vanishing Cultures’, for which I won the Surrey County Council Art Award, focused on my desire to highlight the gradual effacement of indigenous identities in the face of globalisation and consumerism. By raising awareness of the need for mutual understanding, I hoped to help preserve not just their legacy but also that of humanity, as we are all custodians of one fragile planet.
The project initially evolved as a result of my seeing some students at school getting tattoos depicting Japanese calligraphy without understanding its meaning, their only concern was that it was perceived as a mark of social status. After researching the significance of tattoos and other cultural emblems in certain societies, I realised that their meaning was lost when adopted by another society. I began exploring ‘vanishing cultures,’ a topic already of interest to me as a result of my subscription to the National Geographic magazine. I wanted to highlight the gradual effacement of a strong cultural identity and connection to history, retained most significantly by members of indigenous communities. My project aimed to resist a generic modern culture, whilst maintaining a dialogue between diverging communities and their personal histories.
I discovered a beautiful photo of a Filipino tribal girl in the National Geographic magazine and being of English and Filipino heritage (amongst others), I wanted to represent the closeness and distance of my knowledge with that of indigenous peoples. I decided to paint the tribal girl’s tattoo on my sister’s arm; we frequently used each other as muses but this was especially significant as it was in a sense a self-portrait, but also an objective painting. The Tatak ng Alon tattoo (‘wave imprint’ in Filipino) is symbolic for the tribe and the wearer as each tattoo has a meaning and significance for the individual, consequently that meaning would be lost if adopted by another culture or inscribed on another person. The fact it is being washed away on my sister’s arm represents the gradual disappearance of that history when appropriated without an understanding of the said culture.
Indigenous cultures only disappear when external forces, such as the deforestation of rainforests, engulf them. The final piece aimed to project a future without these cultures and the loss of their knowledge; it depicted a barren and drought devastated environment, akin to a photographic negative. Without the knowledge specific to a particular location, all significance is lost to the interpreter and that knowledge vanishes.
The final painting was on display at my school from 2005-2012 when I wanted to reclaim it for my portfolio. There is far more meaning that I included in the painting that there is not enough space to write here without being verbose, but now that I am working as an artist fulltime, I do feel a burgeoning desire to reinvigorate the project and continue exploring the theme of vanishing cultures. I would like to investigate more ways in which I can use my art to promote the beauty and importance of indigenous communities, and hopefully help preserve their heritage and knowledge for posterity.