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Cara Lockhart Smith
Cara’s charming evocative paintings together with some recollections of her illustration work.
Arthur 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 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!
We were privileged to have Paul’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)
Made in Hastings
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.
The landscapes of Paul 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."
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.
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, 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.
A Scott Robertson
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 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. His 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!
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).
William, who wrote an excellent essay on Ian's work for his retrospective show at the Hayward Gallery in 1977, paints beautiful landscapes often of Northumberland. His 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!
Andy’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.
Berwick Art Group
We welcomed back the Berwick Art Group who now seem like old friends. Well attended as always, the show was varied and fascinating. We have dates for next year already pencilled in!
The Lindisfarne Exhibition
The exhibition to mark the presence of the Lindisfarne Gospels in Durham was everything I had hoped for. Exhibits ranged from a proggy mat replica of one of the Cross Carpet pages from the Gospels to four large images of the Four Evangelists entirely made from seeds, beans and lentils. They had a convincing appearance of ancient embroideries. Arthur Wood made a stunning banner which was hung on the front of the Watchtower and could be clearly seen from Berwick. He also lent to us his prize winning example of calligraphy which was much praised and exhibited in the British Library in London. Incorporated into this exhibition were the sculptures of the late Geoff Woodcock who had prepared this show for later in the year but sadly died very suddenly. With the agreement of his family we decided that this would make a loving memorial for him but he is much missed. It was a great privilege to have Treeo, which was exhibited in the Open Exhibition last year, back in the gallery. The pièce de résistance was the massive tree trunk which Geoff had embellished with his carving and which exactly fitted into the path to the front door of the gallery.
The Mayor of Berwick, Isabel Hunter, graciously opened the exhibition and it was well attended throughout August.
To celebrate our first anniversary my son Steve brought a group of works titled Decomposition by himself and his friends in London to the Watchtower. He writes: "Composition: the act of putting together or making up by combining parts or ingredients. Decomposition: to break up or separate into constituent parts. Making leads to unmaking, living leads to dying.” The exhibition contains some stunning images, provocative but beautiful and never without food for thought. It was at the Watchtower until Wednesday 2 October and was well attended.
While all this was happening summer came to Berwick – the first proper one for three years! The river twinkled and the corn grew golden. The pallid faces of the winter also turned golden and people began to look healthy and happy. Tourists filled the town and amazing summer puddings appeared at Civic receptions.
Cow parsley blossomed outside my bedroom window. I met a chameleon and the Mayor sported a beautiful snake. Spectacular sunrises woke me at 5.00 a.m.
Arthur’s banner had to come down. The Honey Farm's London Routemaster bus (Number 12) came to Spittal.
The Battle of Flodden was gloriously but thoughtfully remembered. Coldstream Guards and four hundred horses passed through Coldstream and solemn traditions followed at Flodden Field itself. The great remembering came to an end and the Mayor flew the flag of Berwick above Flodden Field. A memorable day when the descendants of the great families who fought and won or lost all those years ago sat on the platform looking most probably much like their ancestors. And so the summer ended, a summer with much sunshine and many outdoor pursuits.
On the river the young swans grew bigger and dabbled in the Tweed under the eyes of their parents and Pip the Bedlington Terrier eyed up the competition in the gallery.
My best friend stayed with me for a month and we visited Durham to see the Lindisfarne Gospels and the glorious Cathedral.
I met a Peregrine Falcon and watched She perform, who practise at the Watchtower, together with sound engineer Ian Ballantyne (another Watchtower professional) all celebrating at Prior Park Residents Fun Day in brilliant sunshine.
And the Film Festival came back but sadly rejected the film made by Stuart Hardie and Lee Mace who went ahead anyway and provided an excellent Fringe performance, well attended, close to the Gymnasium Gallery car park.
In early October a Preview of a film about the fate of young Palestinians caught by (not much older than them) Israeli soldiers was heart rending on both groups’ accounts and gave us much food for thought.
And suddenly it was a whole year since the last Open Exhibition. Elaine Housby and David Blake helped to receive the paintings: the scene became rather more hectic later than it looks in this photograph!
The following day the Civic Society came for a formal presentation of a Civic Award celebrating the development of the Watchtower. Inspired builder Michael Richardson, architect Barbara Swan and friend, mentor, calligrapher, artist and humourist Arthur Wood joined in the celebration.
Later in October Helen Little, Tate Gallery Curator, came to see the Stephenson paintings and to admire the huge range of local talent in the Open Exhibition. We walked the walls and gazed at the River Tweed and she went back to London the following day enchanted by Berwick.
On Friday the first of November we held not one but two concerts. In the morning the harp arrived via the Yardheads and the back fire door and Pip posed proudly in front of it. He sat quietly with me on the sofa and listened to the whole recital. An hour of classical music by friends of Nigel Chandler one of whom is Roberta, a talented local harpist, and student of the Purcell School. We had not had the pleasure of hearing a harp played in the Watchtower before – another first to be savoured.
And in the evening we came at last to the longed for Adrian Cox concert. After 15 years of touring the world with various artists, Adrian Cox has now formed his quartet playing a high class, high energy mix of Jazz and Swing. Adrian (clarinet/sax) plays with the drive and passion of such players as Benny Goodman, George Lewis, Cannonball Adderley and Earl Bostics. The band includes and features the UK’s finest. Nils Solberg (guitar) George Trebar (double bass) Mez Clough (drums).
Summerland played us in with their usual style and charm. They were already on stage and performing when Adrian and his players finally escaped from the A1 and a long and tedious journey north. The Quartet appeared off the Yardheads and entered at stage right through the fire door straight into the gallery beside the stage but nothing fazes Summerland: they greeted them then went on playing!
Kirsty Jameson and Poppy added glamour and star quality to the impeccable performance of the Adrian Cox Quartet. A stunning evening which went right on till midnight!
Wild flowers gathered from the river side decorated the tables.
Border Tarts and Friends
On the 9th, Border Tarts and Friends In Concert [Andy and Margaret Watchorn, Podlies, Martin Hudson]. Inspired by Martin Hudson’s Cycle ride from London to Land’s End to raise funds for Meningitis Trust to which all proceeds will be donated.
All through these diverse events the second Open Show at the Watchtower shone down from the walls, as exciting as last year and generally, in my view, setting a higher level of talent from the local community even than last year.
and Arthur Wood’s wonderful polyhedron circulated wisely throughout the show.
Pat Oldale organised an excellent concert in aid of the Meningitis Trust with entertainment from The Border Tarts, Malcolm Bennett, Andy and Margaret Watchorn, Martin Hudson, and the Podlies.
Remembrance Sunday was cold and bright and a busy day for the Civic Party which attended six separate services ending at Ord where the long shadows and quiet atmosphere seemed the most appropriate one of all in some ways.
The show of work by Peter accompanied by the wonderful array of pastels originally invented by the late John Hersey for his own use and the production of which is now a family business selling worldwide gave us a month of rich colour and distinguished painting to take us all the way to the start of the Festive Season.
The Meadowsweet I have watched from my bedroom all year has finally become a shadow of its former self, more like a drawing than a wild plant.
The gallery became a photographer’s studio for a day; and David Blake took images of the Stephenson screen for a coming exhibition in Vienna.
The mighty Tweed came washing up towards the Watchtower to reflect the Christmas lights on the New Bridge. Another excellent concert organised by Nigel Chandler filled the Gallery despite the amount of water flowing about Tweedmouth.
During this time Nelson Mandela died and an unbelievable fifty years had passed since the assassination of John F Kennedy. RIP
I went to London, happy in the knowledge that I would be coming back to the Watchtower in due course, swapping one river for another.
And saw my grandson, now taller than when he officially opened the building over fifteen months ago.
Now we start a New Year with an exhibition of work by Graham Patterson and Priscilla Eckhart opening on Saturday 18 January 2014.