In the back room we prepare for our exhibition. There is a lot of time-consuming work done to stage an exhibition and some of it tedious! But we have collectively put all the elements together and produced our first exhibition at the Creation Space Gallery. I hope our visitors won’t be disappointed with the display. And, will be impressed enough to come along to the next one!
Thank you to all those who have supported us. Brian
We knew that the gallery space we are using for The Basingstoke Project would be used for the occasional class, and we thought that we knew when they would be. Unfortunately, it turns out that there are more classes than we were aware of. The flyers are wrong (again; we have already used stickers to add “closed” times).
The exhibition is open 10am to 6pm with the following closures:
Tuesday 17 – already advised, 1 to 2:15 pm; 4 to 5:30 Wednesday 18 – 4 to 5:30 Thursday 19 –no closures 10:30 to 12:00 Friday 20 – 10 to 11 am, 12:30 to 1pm
Saturday 21 – no closures ; Open until 4 pm Sunday 22 – building closed
Monday 23 – already advised, 1 to 3 pm Tuesday 24 – already advised, 1 to 2:15 pm Wednesday 25 – no closures Thursday 26 – no closures, final day
We are all local artists, and we decided to join forces after discovering how much we had in common during last May’s West Berkshire and North Hampshire Open Studios.
The Basingstoke Project
is our first collaborative project, and our first exhibition together as a group. We decided to focus on the town because it is a natural focus point, and because we didn’t think that Basingstoke had come under artistic scrutiny very often in the past.
We set out to create:
an active, reactive, artistic response to the people, places, buildings and character of Basingstoke.
A project to inspire and surprise.
In the course of the project, we learned to look again at the town. We were inspired. We were surprised.
We found hidden gems; we found delight in the familiar; we found our own visions of Basingstoke.
We hope that you enjoy the exhibition, and that you leave with your eyes and your mind open, and with joy in your heart.
I’m hoping that there will be better pictures available, but for now, you’ll have to rely on my hastily shot not-quite-finished-installation view, taken this morning when we were finalising the exhibition for the Private View in the afternoon.
The Private View went very well, I think. I have only the vaguest idea of numbers, but there was a steady stream of visitors, lead by the Deputy Mayor of Basingstoke, in her official capacity – who actually did arrive before anybody else. She expressed a personal appreciation for art in general before entering the gallery and she certainly seemed to enjoy viewing our work. We also played host to a smattering (or should that be a splattering?) of fellow-artists, a couple of representatives from the churches we had depicted, the proprietor of the local Web site It’s Basingstoke not Boringstoke, and assorted others. It was truly lovely to see every single one of our visitors, and gratifying to hear their overwhelmingly positive responses to the exhibition.
I am looking forward to reading their comments in the Visitor’s Book.
Basingstoke is characterised by its ringroad and its roundabouts. The ring road is easy to find, but can be difficult to leave at the right roundabout. And then there is the one way system lying in wait for unwary drivers… Fear not. Among the things we have discovered about Basingstoke over the last few months is a little bit about how not to get lost in Basingstoke. At the very least, we know how to find the exhibition venue.
From the north of Basingstoke
Join the ring road where you encounter it and use either …
the Kingsclere Road from the Houndmills roundabout (A340)
or the signs directing you to the town centre
… to get onto Churchill Way. At the Eastrop Roundabout (handily signed with its name) follow the signs to The Shops and then Top of Town, ignoring the temptations of the Festival Place car park along the way. After you pass the left turn to the Council offices and Eastrop, there is a right hand bend signed Top of Town and a road that goes straight on signed, simply, Hackwood Road.
Take the Hackwood Road and turn first right into Southern Road (as directed by the brown sign to Proteus). The one way system takes you all round the Proteus building to the entrance to its car park.
From the M3
From junction 7, turn right along the ring road. At the Hackwood Road roundabout, turn right towards town.
From junction 6, get delayed by the Black Dam roadworks and turn left along the ring road. At the Hackwood Road roundabout, turn left towards town.
Proteus is signed from here.
Proteus has its own car park, which is free to people visiting Proteus. The scary “Flash Park” warning signs are for people not using Proteus; please do, however, sign in at reception with your car registration number.
Should the car park be full, there is some on street parking nearby (check the restrictions), which is free for 3 hours, or you can park in one of the surface car parks that serve Top of Town for a relatively small fee.
Basing House is a civil war ruin. There’s not much of it left; the “new” house was razed to the ground, but the earthworks of the Norman castle, and the lowest levels (essentially, remnants of the kitchens) do survive.
I have visited Basing House several times in the past, but Rosemary and Brian were visiting for the first time. Having been there before, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I went to the Norman kitchens and set up my easel in front of the fireplaces, and got my oil paints and my knives out. It was something that I have wanted to do for a while – all those intriguing nooks and crannies, the red of the brick, the green of the overgrown bank, the blue of the sky…
Meanwhile, my companions were exploring the main site (separated from the visitor centre by a road), and industriously making pictures.
I was drawn to the old walled Tudor Garden, but more especially the curious turrets built at the corners of the high garden wall. Part of the garden layout had been restored and the manicured bushes of the parterre gleamed in the bright autumnal sunshine. What a peaceful place it was! (It had not always been so: during the English Civil War, this place was the full of anti-Royalist soldiers besieging Basing House).
In Tudor times, if the weather turned inclement, visitors of the garden could take refuge in the windowless towers. When I inspected the interior of one of the towers, I found only steps leading down into darkness!
The tower of particular fascination to me was the one with the dove cote. The dove cote wasn’t a part of the original tower; it had been added in later years.
Here is a quick sketch of the tower in question!
Never one to take the easy route, I decided to make a series of woodcuts for the Basingstoke Project. I’d never done woodcut before (I’d scarcely done any block printing, either, but I did do a few lino cuts in advance of the woodcut work). I did a bit of research (I asked a nice man in the office upstairs) and decided to use birch-faced plywood, which I acquired precut in 30 cm square panels.
St. Michael’s, the town centre church by the Malls, was my first subject. I’m keeping to churches and there are now two blocks cut, and likely to be at least one more. I have a few ideas about reprinting from these blocks for the exhibition, and you can expect a few interesting variations…
Two of us went out looking for somewhere to paint by the Kennet and Avon Canal on Saturday. Attracted by the mysterious shapes and machinery of Benham weir, we found a spot to perch our easels on the edge of a concrete plinth above swirling waters.
Faces of barge crews looked curiously in our direction as they glided by beyond the towpath above our heads.
Perhaps, like me, they were intrigued by our different takes on almost the same view.
Both of us were working with painting knives in oil.
Amanda’s to the left (actual size 33 x 41 cm), Rosemary’s to the right (40 x 50 cm).