Saturday, 6 April 2013

Upfront Gallery

Upfront Gallery :

'via Blog this'

I’ve driven past the Upfront gallery dozen of times and promised myself I would pay it a visit. Well today I actually did it – and now I wish I’d done it sooner. their website is/was advertising a “Mixed exhibition of photography, paintings and original lithographs” and that’s what I got.

Immediately I entered the door I was confronted with a large watercolour and ink painting on Chinese paper by Irene Sanderson showing the artist and some cyclists below Blencathra. It’s one of those paintings that looks better if you stand back a little – at which point you have to search quite hard for the people – which was a nice effect – and caught rather well the views you get from another hill of walkers on distant hills. Typically for ink paintings her work was broad brush and expressive – which worked very well for the most part. Although it’s a work in progress the images on her website give a good idea of her style. Her display extended into the cafe so there was plenty of opportunity to enjoy/study it while I was slurping my way through the rather excellent carrot and coriander soup.

Elsewhere in the main exhibition space there was a series of delightful lithographs by Alan Stones. Skein (vi) – a quite minimalist presentation of a skein of departing geese caught my eye – for hopefully obvious reasons – and I was not surprised that in his notes he said that he saw his nature images as being a metaphor for human travel and other activity.

Alongside Alan Stones were two photographers – Damian Reid – who was displaying a series of Lakeland/northern landscapes of the kind currently popular – all ethereal light etc. He clearly has a passion for his subject and I felt this shot – of a raven landing on a crag – was outstanding. Further on their was a series of shots of Egypt by Mike Shepherd. Looking at his website he has clearly had a larger exhibition at the gallery in the past – which sadly I missed. The images covered very similar ground – and to be honest a similar style – to some of the shots I took while on holiday there a couple of years back, but I specially like his close-up work of wall reliefs – which seemed to capture the actual feel of the sandstone in which they were generally carved.

One last artist I want to mention – Tommy Martin – in the upstairs gallery. Another photographer of Lakeland landscapes, but in a much different style. Where Reid’s landscapes are luminous and mystic, Martin’s are generally darker – with a sense of foreboding. In as much as I understand it, I think he is invoking the sublime in many of his images, woodlands full of mist, mountains in blue twilight, sunbeams breaking through dark clouds etc. He also has one series of four images  - 1 per season – as per the Portfolio exercise on display – which is something of a coincidence.There were a number of other images on display that give me some clues and thoughts as to how I might proceed with Assignment 5 when I get to it.

All in all I’m glad I made the effort – and thanks to the Study Guide on Looking at Artists and Photographers. The advice to “look at everything I can” is something I sometimes struggle with because I perceive that all the worthwhile galleries are 2 hours away. Upfront shows how wrong that idea was and I’m looking forward to their next exhibition already.

If you’re heading past Penrith on the M6 the gallery is only a couple of miles away at most - exit via Junction 41 and take the B5305 towards Wigton.

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