Review  by Professor Simon Olding

Review  by Professor Simon Olding  |  Director, Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts, Farnham
 

Harriet Barber has produced a large body of work on the most demanding and deeply personal of themes. Her studies of women post-surgery are both a testament to her models who have been through the harrowing rituals of invasive care forbreast cancer, and to her own treatment.  Central to this moving exhibition are two images: one, a large, ferociously-painted self portrait; the other a small and highly poignant pencil drawing. The range of emotion as well as scale between these two images is wide: unmediated anger, though the anger of life; and the gaze of dying. But if these are extremes,captured in the fleeting line and the energetic, loaded brush stroke, then what lies between is a lyrical and expressive outburst of confidence and energising personality.

 

Barber’s models take to their unaccustomed roles and poses with singularity and expressiveness. They havemade the artist rethink the relationship between the artist as the controller and the model as the instructed. None of these women lie down meekly for the sake of the artist’s command. They loll, flirt, and lie luxuriantly and gracefully. The backdrops to the work are richly coloured textiles and intensely illuminated rooms. The women gaze back not with the bleak pain ofwounds in their faces; but with a strong and intensely sharpened focus: a new focus on life, time and the need to take any opportunity with both hands and wring it for success.

 

Harriet Barber has built a growing reputation for her post romantic, plein air oil studies from nature: sea and beach scapes, river banks and the atmospheric rural outposts of Cornwall orDorset. Nothing in her past experience as a painter has prepared her for this intensive investigation into psychological drama and the aftermath of gruelling hospital treatment. She has immersed herself in this project and become a stronger artist because of it.

 

Barber has not painted and drawn these expressive works solely for the sake of therapy, although there is medical evidence that, as the Director of the Winchester & Andover Breast Unit says, ‘the use of art has a very positive therapeutic effect which is difficult or impossible to achieve with other approaches’. She has done so to mark a distance from her own personal grief and the pain of the women who have faced their own dark journey of treatment. She has found a powerful narrative in their collective responses and their remarkable ability of self belief and the fight for life. This discovery imbues her work with lightness, colour and verve.

 

Barber has let her art go to accommodate these telling impulses. She has forsaken the more regimented past of her figure painting and the control and order of her Slade-trained work in this vein. In doing so she has paid her models and herself the service of honesty and openness. She has looked on these scars and found that they do not tell her about personality, courage or the impressive force of hope. Her paintings, pastel and oil studies leap out of the frame with energy, vibrancy and sometimes erotic vigour. They mark a harrowing rite of passage for herself and her models, but one that they have transcended together.

Comments

Wonderful response from visitors to the Lyme Regis exhibition

Lyme Regis | Malthouse Gallery | 1 – 20 February                                                                                    
The response to the exhibition in Lyme Regis has been terrific with many visitors of varied age visiting, both from the town and further afield - some newly diagnosed, some saddened by the loss of a close friend or relative to Breast Cancer, a leading Breast Cancer charity director, young women unaffected, older men and women too, medical professionals involved in research, trauma and general practice, professional artists and people just passing by who have recorded in the Visitors Book their thanks to the women as an inspiration to others.  Here are just a few of the many comments :
Beautiful, inspirational
Very moving
Inspiring exhibition
Very brave women – thank you for exhibiting
An honour to see, makes me feel quite humble
Fabulous space, amazing exhibition
An inspiring exhibition of talent and fortitude
Back again, wonderful
Very inspiring and profound comments from the models
Strong idea, strong project, celebration of life and living
Very touching and I like the work a lot
Unexpected visit but so glad to have supported this well worth exhibition.
Comments

art@plush 6 news + open gardens at plush



art @ plush 6 16 – 31 may 2009

ceramics | paintings | print | sculpture
also open gardens at plush may 24 + 25


art@plush6 has a botanical theme and showcases six artists through the house and garden.
With a Private View on the opening day (2 – 6 pm), new this year are book signing sessions (2 – 5 pm) with two author illustrators - Valerie Oxley with “Botanical Illustration” on 17th and 24th May, and Sally Pinhey on 31st May with “Natural Dyes” (co-authored with Judy Hardman).

There is a very rich array of art - unusual garden punctuation; stunning sculpture made entirely from recycled materials standing in the garden or hanging on the wall; colourful abstract paintings - visual poetry inspired by walks along the coastal paths, cliffs and beaches near Sennen in Cornwall; photographic plant and grass studies; detailed academic botanical
illustrations and beautiful drawings and paintings of garden and woodland plants.

For Open Gardens at Plush on May 24th + 25th (Bank Holiday Sunday + Monday), park in Jock’s Field opposite the Brace of Pheasants, pick up a map with routes to the eight village gardens open, buy some plants, enjoy homemade teas, see the classic car display at Millers Barn – as well as enjoying the art ! Some sculpture will be placed in some of the Open Gardens for the 24th + 25th.

The weeks running up to exhibitions are filled with planning, mailings and detail and then there is the task of taking down all the paintings and prints hanging through our house and stowing them away as well as the photographs, sculpture, papers, magazines and the elements of daily family life. For a few days, the empty walls seem bleak and the spaces echo. Then the artists arrive with their work and there is once again a rich array of framed and unframed works and the task of what to hang where begins. Curating is always a team effort and I am so delighted that Fiona Wood is coming to help again.

The work exhibited really speaks for itself – it is always a pleasure to have such amazing works in the house and the garden – and to open for as many as possible to view and enjoy.

Combining art@plush 6 with open gardens seemed a brilliant notion some months back, but became far more daunting as the garden appeared from the winter frosts. The snowdrops and daffodils were bright reminders of the coming spring but the consequence of the late winter snows and intense temperatures as low as –13 became very apparent. So many established plants have been lost and some beds decimated. Now I know what is involved in removing a dead 5’ high Phormium Tenax, so please make some allowance if you spot too many weeds in the garden and wonder why there are so many new plants. You can though admire our very new and substantial compost bin system !

Once again art @ plush 6 will be supporting The Winchester Cancer Trust which pioneers research and has a roll out effect to help surgeons throughout the UK and thus helps to support many women with Breast Cancer. “Breast Reconstruction Your Choice” written by Dick Rainsbury (Chief Trustee) and Virginia Straker should be more widely available to women facing drastic surgery - copies of the book are available here. I had been through this hoop myself three years ago and came through it determined to give something back. Passing on a proportion of my commission continues a good idea and it has also been an
opportunity for ladies suffering or recovering from surgery or treatment, to come and find a little peace and enjoyment in a sometimes stressful world.

venue | millers barn plush dorset dt2 7rj
open | may 16 – 31 2009 weekends 12 – 6 pm | weekdays 2 - 5 pm
private view | may 16 2 - 6 pm
book signing | may 17 + 24 Valerie Oxley 2 - 5 pm
| may 31 Sally Pinhey 2 - 5 pm
open gardens | may 24 + 25 2 - 5 pm


If you are interested in the work of a particular gallery artist or would like to consider art collections for your office on a 3 month revolving programme, or would like any more information, do get in touch.


Dot Browning www.plushart.co.uk
Comments

art @ plush 6 may 16 – 31 2009

ceramics | paintings | print | sculpture
also open gardens at plush may 24 + 25
a@p6 has a botanical theme and showcases six artists through the house and garden.
With a Private View on the opening day (2 – 6 pm), new this year are book signing sessions
(2 – 5 pm) with two author illustrators - Valerie Oxley with “Botanical Illustration” on 17th
and 24th May, and Sally Pinhey with “Natural Dyes” (co-authored with Judy Hardman) on
31st May.

There is a very rich array of art - unusual garden punctuation; stunning sculpture made
entirely from recycled materials standing in the garden or hanging on the wall; colourful
abstract paintings, visual poetry inspired by walks along the coastal paths, cliffs and beaches
near Sennen in Cornwall; photographic plant and grass studies; detailed academic botanical
illustrations and beautiful drawings and paintings of garden and woodland plants.

For Open Gardens at Plush on May 24th + 25th (Bank Holiday Sunday + Monday), there are
eight village gardens open, so park in Jock’s Field opposite the Brace of Pheasants, pick up a
map, wander the gardens, enjoy homemade teas, and a classic car display at Millers Barn – as
well as enjoying the art !

The weeks running up to exhibitions are filled with mailings and detail and then there is the
task of taking down all the paintings and prints hanging through our house and stowing them
away as well as the elements of family life, the photographs, sculpture, papers and
magazines. For a few days, the empty walls seem bleak and the spaces echo. Then the
artists arrive with their work and there is once again a rich array of framed and unframed
works and the task of what to hang where begins. Curating is always a team effort and I am
so delighted that Fiona is coming to help again.

The work exhibited really speaks for itself – it is always a pleasure to have such amazing
works in the house and the garden – and to open for as many as possible to view and enjoy.
If you are interested in art collections for your office on a 3 month revolving programme, do
get in touch.

What seemed a brilliant notion though some months back, became more daunting as the
garden appeared from the winter frosts. The snowdrops and daffodils were bright reminders
of the coming spring but the consequence of the late winter snows and intense temperatures
as low as –13 became very apparent. So many established plants have been lost and some
beds decimated. Now I know what is involved in removing a dead 5’ high Phormium Tenax,
so please make some allowance if you spot too many weeds in the garden and wonder why
there are so many new plants. You can though admire our very new and substantial compost
bin system !

Once again art @ plush 6 will be supporting The Winchester Cancer Trust which pioneers
research and has a roll out effect to help surgeons throughout the UK and thus helps to
support many women with Breast Cancer. “Breast Reconstruction Your Choice” written by
Dick Rainsbury (Chief Trustee) and Virginia Straker should be more widely available to
women facing drastic surgery - copies of the book are available here. I had been through this
hoop myself three years ago and came through it determined to give something back.
Passing on a proportion of my commission continues a good idea and it has also been an
opportunity for ladies suffering or recovering from surgery or treatment, to come and find a
little peace and enjoyment in a sometimes stressful world.
art @ plush 6 venue | millers barn plush dorset dt2 7rj
open | may 16 – 31 2009 weekends 12 – 6 pm | weekdays 2 - 5 pm
book | may 17 and 24 Valerie Oxley2 - 5 pm
signing | may 31 Sally Pinhey 2 - 5 pm

• Botanical author illustrator and free-lance tutor Valerie Oxley is Chair of Florilegium Society at Sheffield
Botanical Gardens, Vice President of the Northern Society for Botanical Art, member Society for Botanical Artists,
Society of Floral Painters and Institute of Analytical Plant Illustrators. On display will be original front and back
cover illustrations and paintings from her book ‘Botanical Illustration’ published last November by Crowood. The
book deals with the history, botany, and all related technical aspects of the subject in detail, setting up, conditioning
of plants, starting to draw and all related media, colour theory, what to paint, how to paint, finishing touches and the
role of photography and computers. Valerie will be signing copies of her book ‘Botanical Illustration’
between 2 + 5 pm on the 17th and 24th May.
• Sally Pinhey will be exhibiting original drawings, paintings and prints from her new book ‘Natural Dyes’ (co-
authored with Judy Hardman) which will be hot off the press from publishers Crowood late May. Member
Association of Illustrators, Fellow of the Chelsea Physic Garden Florilegium Society, Founder Secretary of the South
West Society of Botanical Artists, Sally is currently Botanical Art instructor for Kingston Maurward College, runs
“How to Draw Courses” and also at Springhead Trust near Shaftesbury. She became perversely hooked on the idea
of painting dye plants in 2005, starting with a knowledge of them at about 1 on the 1 - 10 scale and a chance meeting
put her in touch with Judy Hardman, a spinner and dyer of formidable energy and intellect. Sally will be
signing copies of her book ‘Natural Dyes’ between 2 + 5 pm on the 31st May.

• For London photographer Emma Peios, the emotion that colours can convey is a key theme - Agave succulents
are photographed under soft winter light to emphasis the healing properties of this medicinal plant; an oriental
explosion of colour comes from printing a transparency in the negative to produce a fluorescent effect. Some of her
Pollen Series images were shot on location at the Knoll Gardens, Wimborne, Dorset .

• Dorset artist Bonnie Brown’s paintings are lyrical evocations of time and place, combining inner and outer
worlds in a rich fabric of colour and spatial manipulations. Ideas are triggered by something seen, felt, touched,
observed, a memory often on the edge of recognition. All familiar and individual, these often unrelated images are
formed together into a new visual relationship on the canvas.

• London sculptor Barbara Franc studied under Maggie Hambling and has always been fascinated by the shapes
and sculptural forms of animals - her recent sculptures are made entirely from recycled materials, some in a metallic
finish and other coloured using enamel or clear plastic glass paints. A stunning new work yet to be seen by the
public is a version of the Cholmondeley Twins, a favourite painting in the The Tate, ‘Sisters’ is made entirely of tin !
• Craftsman designer maker Jonathan Garratt makes artworks for green spaces which he terms ‘garden
punctuation’ sculpture, taking traditional ideas a step further by ‘knitting’ the pieces into the planting, a way of
engaging more directly with the natural world. Pieces will be placed in some Open Gardens for the 24th + 25th.
Dot Browning www.plushart.co.uk
Comments

art@plush raises £1250 for cancer charities

PRESS RELEASE 7th January 2009

art@plush 5 | 29th november – 14th december


art@plush 5 showcased four professional artists – Dorset based Harriet Barber and John Hinchcliffe, the Independent’s Dave Brown and Zurich based Tim Grosvenor alongside jewellery designer maker Hanne Ashmead and Stoneform’s Zoe Cull and Alex Evans. The venue was Millers Barn in Plush, and once again, the exhibition supports two Breast Cancer charities – The Winchester Cancer Trust and the West Dorset Breast Cancer Support Group.

This annual exhibition with a mailing list towards 2000 injected some much needed warmth and lightness as well as respite from the economic climate. For a number of visitors, themselves mid treatment for Breast Cancer, it was a chance to lose themselves in the considerable variety of work by artists who to quote Richard Plincke RI : “have one attribute in common, that of individuality. The effect is one of variety, ranging from the simplicity and directness of Tim Grosvenor, through a very different kind of directness in Dave Brown’s cartoons, via the more concentrated pleasure of Hanne Ashmead’s jewellery to the breadth of treatment seen in the paintings by Harriet Barber and the Hinchcliffe ceramics invariably adventurous in their concept, with an integral sense of movement. The exhibition relies on expressive work. It is full of ideas and rich in its variety.”

art@plush is very grateful to Sabins Deli + Catering for their sponsorship towards the private view catering, to Pasfield & Park for taking on part of the framing costs of the Dave Brown original cartoons, and to Fiona Wood for her enthusiasm and expertise in helping to curate and hang the exhibition.

Although visitor numbers were down this year, the venue - Millers Barn – is deep in the folds of the Dorset landscape in Plush so finding us after dark did prove difficult for some. But despite the current economic gloom and the exhibition being held so late this year amid the run up to Christmas, the reaction from visitors was very positive and we achieved the highest sales to date at a little over £9,500. It has been pure privilege to have such stunning artwork hanging.

Harriet Barber has two young children and was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in May 2008. art@plush 5 gave her a focus as she suffered the side effects of chemotherapy, to continue painting albeit in the studio rather than in the great outdoors as is her norm. She has been happy for me to publicise her situation and many have been very touched by her age and her tremendous paintings and have very readily purchased her cards – all proceeds benefit the two charities. Harriet is an inspiration and her work is stunning - she is going to position herself in our garden soon as she is fascinated by the view of the trees complete with rooks and their nests as viewed from my husband’s glass studio and at least she will have a steady supply of tea, coffee and hot soup while she works !

The overall cost of putting on the exhibition is some £1,200 so following closure, the various transactions for purchase of artwork, the schedule of expenditure and sales has established the sums to be passed on :

West Dorset Breast Cancer Support Group receive a cheque for £250 and a painting worth in excess of £300 to be used for future fundraising.

The Winchester Cancer Trust receive a cheque for £700 with a further donation cheque in the sum of £25.

art@plush has also arranged for four Carolyne Kardia acrylic paintings to hang on permanent loan in the new Chemotherapy Unit at Dorchester County Hospital.


Dot Browning www.plushart.co.uk
Comments (1)

More about the artists in art@plush5

Some background to art@plush 5, the fifth show here at Millers Barn – and biased as I am, it was by far the best – in part because of the quality of the artists – but also because it ‘showcased’ a limited number of artists and gave their work more space in the gallery sense. We have had visitors throughout each day, despite icy roads and biting cold and the extreme economic climate.

I always try to have different styles or media – eg I avoid showing three landscape painters together - and I do not confine myself to drawing my gallery artists just from Dorset. It is the quality of the work which attracts me to the artist regardless of where they are based. In this instance, Dave Brown is based in London and is the Independent’s political cartoonist – we know his cartoons because we take the Independent each day, and the current economic and political climate with so much breaking news over the past three months seemed to me to be an opportunity not to be missed. And his ability to interpret the most thought provoking or important news story of the previous fifteen hours is remarkable – and he keeps this up each and every day !

Tim Grosvenor is based in Zurich – and I was introduced to his work verbally, found his web presence intriguing, and it went from there. He arrived with his paintings early in November, so we have had the pleasure of studying each of his works in detail as well as changing their hanging position through the house, so a rich treat for us.

I have known Hanne Ashmead for many years through the shared passion and ownership of elderly Aston Martins, but only latterly her ability to create and make quite beautiful and very unusual jewellery – and again I decided that she needed to be introduced to a far wider audience. This has been literally walking out of the door for the duration of the exhibition !

John Hinchcliffe and Harriet Barber - I knew about their work and reputation and approached them this autumn. I hadn’t realised initially that they were related. Both are quite outstanding – and have extensive reputations and John Hinchcliffe’s work is included in many significant and national collections. Currently concentrating on ceramics, he arrived towards the end of the exhibition with five new platters all quite beautifully decorated and very freshly out of the kiln. They are terrific – 41 cm in diameter and have a price tag each of £250 – you need to see them so I have included a few pictures.

I had already decided that art@plush 5, like the previous show last year, would be in part a fund-raising exercise for two breast cancer charities. I had been through this hoop myself two years ago, was greatly helped by family and friends willing me to get through it which determined me to give something back. Passing on 15% of the works sold (out of my commission) seemed a good idea. It has also been an opportunity for ladies suffering or recovering from surgery or treatment, to come and find a little peace and enjoyment in a sometimes stressful world and inevitably a number are keen to just talk to someone who has been there too.

The overall price of the artworks has been from £150 through to £4.5k with the smallest items of jewellery £15. Zoe Cull & Alex Evans operate from the Duck Workshops in Tincleton, Dorset, and provided some very appealing cylindrical Portland stone candlesticks, a tall gilded Portland obelisk stone candlestick and pairs of stone doves made from recycled Portland stone dust. Stoneform were part of art@plush 3 and as with all the artists who exhibit here, I continue to work with them and promote them wherever possible – and particularly in these increasingly gloomy economic times.

I was particularly struck by Harriet who had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer in May this year – and very saddened that she was suffering at such a young age with two young children which still to me seems so unfair. But this exhibition has given her a focus as she has been suffering the side effects of chemotherapy, to continue painting albeit in the studio rather than in the great outdoors as she is used to do. She is an inspiration and her work is stunning. She is going to bring her paints and large canvas and position herself in our garden in the New Year as she is fascinated by the view of the trees complete with rooks and their nests as viewed from my husband’s glass studio. At least she will have a steady supply of tea, coffee and hot soup while she works ! She has been very ‘up’ for me to publicise her situation and many have been very touched by both her age and her tremendous paintings and have very readily purchased her cards – all proceeds of her cards are passed on to the charities :

West Dorset Breast Cancer Support Group
The Winchester Cancer Trust

The Breast Care nurses at Dorchester Hospital publicised art@plush and the link with breast cancer – and it was very good to see two of them visit the exhibition. The funds help to cover those costs which the NHS cannot cope with – and again support many of the wider sub-groups across the county. art@plush has also placed works in the new Chemotherapy Unit at Dorchester Hospital – Carolyne Kardia produced a series of paintings for Breast Cancer and was keen for them to be displayed on long term loan.

Richard Rainsbury is Chief Trustee of The Winchester Cancer Trust – and also my surgeon and is a remarkable man – incredibly talented and his consideration and dedication to women with breast cancer is amazing. His latest WCT statement reads :

“The major success story of 2008 was the launch of a patient information book entitled ‘Breast Reconstruction – Your Choice’. The book has been extremely well received, and the publishers are developing a website, as well as exploring opportunities to translate the book into other languages, including Portuguese and Spanish.

The Breast Unit is delighted to be first unit in a district general hospital in the UK to purchase equipment which delivers radiotherapy at the time of breast surgery. This is a major advance for patients and their families. It means that treatment can be given as a ‘single shot’ while the patient is anaesthetised, avoiding the inconvenience of 5 weeks of treatment. This is a fantastic benefit for our patients and we are thrilled that the Winchester Unit is able to lead the way in this exciting new field.

New technology has recently been developed which enables instant examination of lymph nodes removed at surgery, providing the result while the patient is still asleep. This means that in future about 8 out of 10 patients will be able to have all of their surgery and radiotherapy carried out as a day case. We need about £30K for the purchase of equipment which can carry out this type of ‘gene probe’ analysis.”

By contributing to the WCT, there is a rollout effect helping surgeons and thus patients throughout the UK.


We continue to have some of the artwork hanging – it is always a pleasure to have such amazing works in the house – and we enjoy being open the house for as many as possible to view – and welcome enquiries for purchase or now renting artworks.

Dot

01300 348 280
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Welcome to art@plush - and our new website!

Welcome to art@plush 5 - the fifth annual exhibition of contemporary work at Millers Barn, Plush running from November 29th-December 14th 2008. This year's exhibition showcases work from Dorset artists Harriet Barber and John Hinchcliffe, Zurich based artist Tim Grosvenor and the Independent's political cartoonist Dave Brown alongside New Forest jewellery maker Hanne Ashmead.


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Press coverage



We've had some excellent press coverage over the years, but the Dorset County Magazine's three page spread at the end of 2006 probably offers the best background to the gallery...
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