"Have you seen it, you, know, the picture. The one everyone's talking about – wink, wink, say no more." When you hear comments like this around Audlem, you know something's worth seeking out. And you can find it at the Festival's Art Exhibition.
The Festival hanging committee must have been all too aware of the furore in 1863 when Manet's Le dejeuner sur l'herbe caused such uproar in Paris. Libby Bower, a student at Liverpool's Institute for the Performing Arts has clearly learnt how to draw an audience. Her eye-opening work, Ultimate – we hear it might also have been called 'The Big Issue' – has stopped everyone in their tracks. It'll almost certainly double the traffic through this fine exhibition as word gets round!
There's much else to see and enjoy. At the entrance is a fine selection of work by the Adderley and Audlem life drawing group. Local artists including Annabel Thornton; Bill Campbell; Wendy Davies; Geraint Jones; Shan Bower; Brian Salisbury and Lindsey Fox show their skills in drawing life models. Sheri Cuffe, hailing from St Vincent in the Caribbean, has a beautiful display of work including delicately worked bags and other works that capture the colours of those islands in the sun.
Will Warburton has produced a range of strikingly vibrant large canvasses using mixed media. Kate McKennan has a fascinating and beautiful range of work. Pride of place goes to Out of Africa and Everyday Things. Examine closely her work; there are hidden messages as well as intricate details everywhere you look.
Jo Halden is a local artist. Two of her landscapes feature Stafford Street and George Beaman's Cottage. Outstanding too was a painting of two nudes while her portrayal of Crosby Beach, and Anthony Gormley's 'Another Place' figures, would grace any wall.
Finally, and everyone seems to be drawn back too, there's just time for a second look at Libby's Ultimate. Congratulations to the Art team for making such a brave decision, and congratulations too to all the artists for a fine exhibition. It's open today from noon to 4.00pm and tomorrow from 10.30am to 4.00pm at the Methodist Chapel.
Review by Bob Cartwright
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