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.


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