FRANCESCA WILKINSON SHAW – ‘MAZES OF THE MIND’

Dean Close was excited to host the first exhibition of 2019, Mazes of the Mind, by Francesca Wilkinson Shaw, which will feature a range of colourful, pattern-based, abstract paintings.  The exhibition was first shown at the Eric Liddell Centre, Edinburgh, in November 2018 and was on display in the School’s BonBernard Gallery from Friday 11th January to Saturday 9th February.

She says: “My paintings are a progressive experiment in the interplay between space, form and colour. Ideas arise and emerge through the act of painting, as the material process initially leads the way. I am interested in two balancing points that reoccur in my work: firstly exactly where shapes are in space, alternating backwards and forwards – coming and going – and secondly how much of an image needs to be visible for it to be read coherently.  I aim for the point at which a visual balance between liminal states can be read, allowing differing interpretations to co-exist.  At times I describe environments emotionally rather than naturalistically to create a notion of place, and to address another boundary – this time between abstraction and realism.  I always aim to leave more to be found in my work than is at first evident.”Francesca trained at Chelsea School of Art in the 1960’s, before spending many years teaching Art and Design in Edinburgh. She now combines painting with work as an Art Psychotherapist in Edinburgh Prison.

ROSIE TATCHELL – ‘HIGHLIGHTS’

It was a pleasure to welcome Rosie Tatchell, OD back to Dean Close, to exhibit her pieces in the BonBernard Gallery. The purpose-built Art School was filled with a range of stunning still-life and landscape pieces from the artist’s ‘Highlights’ exhibition. Pupils, parents and members of the community were all welcome to explore the exhibits and chat to the artist herself.

Rosie was a Dean Close pupil for seven years. After leaving in 2005 she went on to pursue her passion for art, and completed an Art Foundation course at Banbury College (Oxford and Cherwell Demontford University).

Later, she attended the prestigious Charles H Cecil Studios in Florence for three years and it was there that she studied traditional drawing and oil painting techniques.

Since returning to England in 2011 Rosie has made art her career. She always has commissions on the go and has taught herself how to paint still-lives, landscapes and animal portraits. The main focus for this exhibition were her favourite subjects which include glass, silverware, blue and white china and fruit.  Painting her subjects from life, she is able to capture the natural light and in particular the highlights which dance around the objects.

Head of Art at Dean Close School, Caroline Evans, said: “It is a real pleasure to welcome Rosie back to Dean Close to exhibit her beautiful paintings. It is always especially rewarding to see the students we have taught thriving in the art world and making their living from their talent and creativity. Rosie has come a long way since her school days and we couldn’t be more proud!”

NATASHA HOUSEAGO – ‘TURBULENT’

Dean Close School was pleased to welcome Natasha Houseago, professional sculptor, to exhibit her pieces in the BonBernard Gallery earlier this year. The purpose built art School was filled with a range of beautiful and interesting sculptures, all created under the title “Turbulent”. Pupils, parents and members of the community were all welcome to explore the exhibition and chat to the artist herself.

Natasha works mainly in green wood – combining her own studio practice in Cheltenham, with exhibiting, teaching carving, community and public art projects and residencies in the UK and abroad. Although she has worked in other materials she is always drawn back to wood believing it to be “a magical, potent, living material”. All of her wood has fallen naturally, and she loves that sense of giving it another life.

Natasha has worked with artists in the Lower Sixth Form at Dean Close previously, teaching them the methods of wood carving. She encourages pupils to begin with some loose drawings which they then transfer in chalk onto the solid blocks of wood where they begin the very physical process of carving, hacking, rasping and scraping.

Head of Art at Dean Close School, Caroline Evans, said:  “It is an absolute pleasure to welcome Natasha back to Dean Close with such a stunning exhibition. The pupils have been inspired by the materials, techniques and tools that Natasha uses and I’m sure the exhibition will encourage more 3D work and sculpture in the future”.

GEORGE THOMAS – ‘BEYOND THE GATES’

This September, Dean Close is hugely excited to host an exhibition of drawing and painting by Old Decanian, George Thomas, from 6 September to 14 October.

George tells us about his artist journey to date:

“I left Dean Close in 2013 with A Levels in History, Politics and Art and went on to do an Art Foundation course at SGS College Stroud.  Whist studying in Stroud I worked as a caricature artist at the local farmers’ market where I realised the need to work under time pressure!  After completing my Foundation Course I moved to London to study at the London Atelier of Representational Art (LARA).

LARA is an art school which focuses on training its students rigorously in traditional academic drawing and painting techniques. My passion for portraiture, figurative and highly skilled representational art (which has been with me since an early age) was my reason to study at LARA as opposed to at a university.  During my time studying in London I continued to work as a caricature artist, working at events across the country. I have exhibited both figurative and Plein Air art in various exhibitions in London including on The King’s Road, Chelsea and at Candid Arts, Angel.

In 2016 I won the Tuscany Plein Air Scholarship where I spent a week painting landscapes in a villa in the Tuscan countryside.  I have been on many painting adventures; these include climbing a flat top mountain on the Venezuelan-Brazilian border where I painted a watercolour using water I’d collected from a mountain stream, travelling to the Pyrenees to paint in the snow, and asking locals in Tarifa, Spain to sit for me whilst I drew their portrait.  All these have furthered me to seek inspiration to create captivating and beautiful artworks.

My art is routed in the boundaries of observed light and form.  Working predominately from life I seek to capture an accurate likeness of the figure, landscape or object I am depicting.  I seek to capture the feelings and emotions of my subject.  I design my composition to highlight the elements which bring the sentiment of the scene to life and convey these to the viewer.”

MIN KIM – OLD DECANIAN

Former pupil, Min Kim, returned to Dean Close to hold a Private View of her own, solo exhibition in the School’s BonBernard Gallery.  She is the fourth student to return to the School with a solo exhibition.  Min left Dean Close in 2007 and went on to study at The Slade School of Fine Art and, most recently completed her MA at The Royal College of Art. She is currently forging a career as a professional artist working both in the UK and Korea.

Her show, ‘Evolve’, was a retrospective exhibition that charts the past 10 years of her practice, from A Level to current day, as she has searched for her own pictorial language.

Head of Art, Caroline Evans, said: “Min is an exceptionally talented young artist whose work is as beautiful as it is extraordinary, anyone who views her work cannot help but be impressed.  It makes for fascinating viewing.”

At Dean Close, Min experienced a new way of art education which was different from what she had learnt in Korea. Learning the importance of process and creativity made a strong base for further education in art colleges in London.  Later her work drew inspiration from nature. The paintings are dreamy and other-worldly with bright colours and uncanny forms. Eventually, she began to focus on pure abstraction; colour, form, texture. The colours and forms in the abstract landscapes slowly formed into the basic shapes in the later works. She was interested in the relationship between each shapes and creating unknown spaces within the 2D canvas space.

At the Royal College of Art, Min researched geometric abstract works and Russian constructivists such as El Lissitzky, Malevich and Mondrian. Since completing her Masters, her works are more simplified and modernized. The shapes in the earlier works became much smaller and they are placed in a regular pattern cross the canvas. It looks like a kind of code or language at the first glance but they like to be read as separate individuals. As the figures became more complicated, the colours became simpler. The gradation (the changes of tone) have become much more important in her work. Her work still has the feeling of a spatial or multidimensional world in the relationship of time and space.