HOW CAN NEARLY HALF A YEAR GO PAST WITHOUT, IT SEEMS, NO TIME TO RETURN TO THE WEBSITE? TO THOSE WHO HAVE COMPLAINED ABOUT THIS, I CAN ONLY SAY SORRY. BUT IT HAS BEEN A HECTIC THOUGH FABULOUS 2013 SO FAR.
Let us remember!
In January we were regaled by Cara Lockhart Smith’s charming evocative paintings together with some recollections of her illustration work.
Arthur Wood filled the foyer and the staircase with the most beautiful examples of calligraphy one could wish for and has gone on and on amazing us with his ideas and enthusiasm.
Grahame Tebbutt moved and inspired us with his visions of history from medieval times to the present. His knights in armour, many of whom must have ridden over the very soil on which the Watchtower is built, never fail to engage me.
. . . and Arthur Wood stayed with us for another month by popular demand! [see below]
In February we were privileged to have Paul Kenny’s extraordinary images at the Watchtower. . . . .
He wrote: The work, building on themes developed over thirty-five years, tries to find the awe-inspiring in that which is easily passed by. It contains issues of fragility, beauty and transience in the landscape: marks and scars left by man and the potential threat to the few remaining areas of wilderness. Looking at the micro and thinking about the macro, I aim for each print to be a beautiful, irresistible, thought provoking object.
Sea Metal [one of my favourites]
And a fascinating group show all the way from the south coast: paintings, beautiful hand printed cloths, pots and brooches and all manner of delightful objects and cards produced for and on sale in their shop Made in Hastings
In March the landscapes of Paul Stangroom drew much attention.
He wrote: I walked The Pennine Way when I was 16 and it was evident then of the changes in the upland farms as quite a few of the places were abandoned. I realised how tough it must have been and indeed still is to live and work in such remote and often harsh landscapes. The settings are often spectacular and there is a particular beauty in the wide open moorland but it would be a mistake to romanticise living in these places.
AND also in March Jonathan Lloyd/Rolling Structures
Three painters and a potter who share a deep-seated interest in the history of their craft and a desire to extend its ancient approaches into the contemporary age
Jonathan Lloyd, Simon Jowitt, Matthew Howard and Doug Fitch brought a welcome burst of colour during the dark spring.
[We laughed a lot during the hanging of the paintings and the display of the glorious pots . . .]
And Jonathan did an excellent talk about woodcut printing to a fascinated audience
In April, Arthur Wood’s entry to the Calligraphy and Lettering Arts Society exhibition at the British Library was awarded a certificate for the most creative entry. It is entitled The Pilgrim Guide and was displayed at the Watchtower on 14 April when Arthur brilliantly described the design process.
May brought some sunshine but still the air was cold. It also brought the work of James Page and A Scott Robertson and, for good measure, the set of the Stations of the Cross which was displayed around Berwick over Easter
James Page, and his very popular Ark, wearing his shoes-to-match. The gentle animal sounds emitting from the Ark gave the Gallery a bucolic air not usually experienced in Berwick. His mysterious and beautifully painted canvases were the source of much conversation during the month of the show.
Scott’s subtle views of Berwick were hugely popular and Scott himself made a big contribution to the running of the Gallery during his show. Many people had the pleasure of meeting him and talking about the art and he deservedly sold an impressive number of his paintings and prints.
Suddenly it is summer. The market at Berwick buzzing and the Hopper Bus hopping all over the place and the beautiful fruit stall laden with soft fruit!
Les McLean and his wife were the first of our artists to use the newly constructed slope at the end of the Yardheads to gain access to my west door at gallery level.
The only downside was that fewer people came to the Opening of this excellent group of three artists, all being off to the sun and rightly so. That gave us all time for more real talk about the paintings and photographs and for me to talk to Marcus Price and Bill Feaver about old times in Newcastle. (Very old times . . .)
Andy Watchorn’s oil paintings, which include one from the seventies which he had sat and discussed with Ian Stephenson when Andy was a student at Winchester Art School, are dark and rich while the smaller works on paper gleam like embers or jewels in a cave.
William Feaver’s paintings draw one in to the lush greens of the sweeping hills and capture all the grandeur of the northern landscapes despite their relatively small scale.
Les McLean’s portraits of ageing fighters are deeply moving: is there any way to gain freedom without fighting? The young girl speaks with hope but the faces of the older women reflect the reality.
And Flint settles in peacefully as usual!
AND THAT IS HOW IT HAS BEEN – EXCITING, WONDERFUL ART BY ALL, AND PROMISES OF MORE TO COME.
BUT OTHER EVENTS HAVE BEEN INTERLACED WITH THE EXHIBITIONS.
In January Nick Clegg came to tea with the Liberal Democrats and spent some time studying the Ian Stephenson catalogue I gave to him before disappearing into a snowstorm. He liked the Watchtower and the view but probably not the weather . . .
Also in January and February The Mowbrays from Glasgow came to record in the sound studio and took the time to look at the paintings
In February, Summerland came to work in the Sound Studio and will be playing at the T J Johnson concert on Friday 14 June here at The Watchtower – pictures later!
In March Nigel Chandler organised the second lunchtime recital and a large audience was treated to a programme of Mozart and Kodaly.
Andrew Ayre held a Silent Auction for the Sailing Club and the Contemporary Art Society brought a party of members to see the Gallery and to talk about the Ian Stephenson paintings.
In April Jonathan Lloyd sent his work off to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition via an RA scheduled van collecting in Morrissons’ car park!
And my over-the-road neighbour, who is re-opening the pretty Art Deco building opposite, tells me that The Thatch pub is also to be re-opened. Beautiful Tweedmouth indeed!
In April too, the Trail Cards, invented by Michael Richardson, designed by Cara Lockhart Smith and backed by the Town Team, arrived in big fat bundles and, set out, looked like a ray of sunshine in a cold spring.
And it was in April that Pip the Bedlington Terrier came into the life of the Watchtower (well, one quarter of him, technically being shared on a foursome basis). And he thinks “How much do I have to eat to get that big?” You don’t Pip, that is a Labradoodle.”
In May the Town Team was launched at the Watchtower with a great gathering of people willing to listen and to respond to the plans and intentions which will make Berwick recognise and implement the great future which is open to it. It was such a good meeting that, when everyone eventually left, we realised we had not given out the bundles of Trail cards which had been the basic purpose of the meeting in the first place.
Scocha came to the Recording Studio for a day: I love their sound and who knows, perhaps one day at the Watchtower!? (They really do drink Irn Bru . . .)
And Jonathan Lloyd had his work accepted for the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London.
Most of you will know by now that MT is Sheriff of Berwick for this year. He paid me the huge compliment of inviting me to be Sheriff’s Lady. I am honoured to be a tiny speck in the history of Berwick upon Tweed. Importantly, Michael brings to this ancient role clarity of thinking and planning which will do much to promote and support all the amazing things which Berwick is on the verge of achieving. Together with the Mayor Isobel Hunter and her Consort Forbes Grant we have already survived a fairground ride at the May Fair, ridden the new Hopper bus on a tour of Berwick and sailed up the mighty Tweed to Paxton House in a fleet of four boats which will take tourists and locals alike on this wonderful journey.
But most importantly, the impressive history of these Offices brings a dignity to Berwick which no amount of money could buy. Be deeply proud of them. Never lose them. They are not about personalites. Like the Monarchy, they are part of our extraordinary British history and the envy of other nations.
All of which hopefully explains why I have taken until now to write it all down – I will talk about June soon!
And about future plans of which I am thinking.