Reading Year of Culture 2016

Reading seems to be revelling in its year of culture. The town is overflowing with art and culture at the moment, with heritage open days in full swing this week and the new Artangel exhibition at the old prison building.
Adeliza, Rosemary and I met up at Blake’s Lock yesterday afternoon where we marvelled at the variety of work on show at the current exhibition there (a multi-artist show for RG Spaces that focuses on Reading and its rivers and is part of the Heritage Open Days scheme). The exhibition almost suffers from too much variety – cute painted puppies jostle with intriguing microscopic river creatures, printed large on a fabric hanging; solid graphite weir-water hangs in opposition to a sunny scene of leisure boaters; broad strokes and fine pen work sit alongside embroidered panels and stained glasswork; gloriously complex textile art and collage counter bold linocuts.
Rosemary suggested that we head over to the now defunct Reading Gaol to see Artangel’s Inside. With big name artists and a sombre flavour (not to mention a large dash of Oscar Wilde in serious mode), this was an entirely different show. All three of us found the setting disturbing. The artwork – a mixture of painting and other 2d work, installation and writing – had evidently been chosen to reflect the dual themes of incarceration and alternative sexuality, albeit with variable success (this Guardian article summarises the hits and misses far better than I could). Much of the artwork was ensconced in the cells, often one painting at a time. It was an unusual way to encounter art.
It was a relief (no doubt shared by many others in the past) to leave the prison buildings, but the exhibition had weight and was very moving.
RG Spaces / Reading and its Rivers is on at the Turbine House, Blake’s Lock, Reading until Sunday 11 September and is free to visit.
Artangel / Inside is on at HMP Reading until Sunday 30 October, £9/£7 admission
Artikinesis at Blake’s Lock is on at the Turbine House, Blake’s Lock, Reading from Saturday 17 September until Saturday 1 October and is free to visit.

Explore hidden Reading with Artikinesis

17 September – 1 October 2016 – free entry art exhibition

Not far from the hustle of central Reading there is Blake’s Lock. Along this quiet backwater, five artists and a poet came, saw, recorded their findings and expressed their feelings.
Now at the Riverside Museum’s Turbine House gallery, you can share their experiences and discover hidden Reading for yourself.

Riverside Museum at Blake’s Lock, off Kenavon Drive, Reading, RG1 3DH

(access through car park of the Bel and Dragon restaurant)

Exhibition opening times
Every day 17 Sept – 30 Sept: 10.00 – 18.00
Final day 1 October exhibition closes at 15.00

Basingstoke Gazette Article

Photograph from Basingstoke Gazette article. “South East Water’s Douglas Whitfield with artists Amanda Bates, Rosemary Lawrey and Brian Marchant”

Two weeks ago, I sketched at Basingstoke Waterworks. Those sketches became the basis of a painting, which can be seen in the photograph and (of course) at the exhibition itself!
The article is currently live on the Gazette Web site and is due to be published in the paper.

Basingstoke Waterworks

I had been informed that, somewhere in Basingstoke, was a Victorian pump house, and my interest was piqued. I located it on the map and, about a week ago, set off to see what it was like on the ground. It was inside a gated compound, part of the active waterworks run by South East Water. The gate was open… I parked my car outside and walked in, with the purpose of finding someone and requesting permission to draw.
A gentleman in a hi-vis vest emerged from the building and I attracted his attention. He told me that he did not have the authority to grant my request, but that he would ask his boss.
South East Water were very accommodating and I went back to the compound today – the last dry day of the week, if the forecast is accurate – where I was met by a member of staff who was both courteous and interested in what I was doing, although quite happy to leave me to it.
I made several sketches, three of which are illustrated below:

watermarked-BasingstokeWaterworks1906-DerwentDrawing watermarked-BasingstokeWaterworks8B watermarked-BasingstokeWaterworkscharcoal&conte

Garage Gallery

When you take your car to the garage, you don’t often find a wall of art in the workshop. But if you were to visit SB Autos at Folly Farm on the A339 near Basingstoke, that is exactly what you will find.
In keeping with the Artikinesian principle of connecting with places where art is a stranger, Adeliza arranged this space with Simon and four of us placed work in the garage gallery…

Wall of art
Left to right: pieces by Rosemary (“Apple Pie Tree”), Amanda (“Linear”), Adeliza (“Silchester Common”) and Elinor (“Stairway”).