Lilac scent takes me straight back there

Childhood memories of a council house garden, lovingly nurtured by her parents for more than 60 years, are the inspiration for an extraordinary collection of new work by Ruth Rotherham.

The felt artist, whose beautiful wall hangings, bowls and vessels go on show for the first time during the Leigh Art Trail (June 9-16), has poured herself into a project she describes as a "tribute" to her mother, 94, and late father.

"I wanted to express and explore my memories of the garden from when I was little because it's the end of an era," says Ruth, whose mum moved out of the house last year to go into a nursing home.

"I have sought to express the joy and pleasure that garden brought me though interpretations of the flowers and plants.

“I find the fibres, colours, textures and versatility of felt captivating and the last few years have been a wonderful time of exploration and growth. My work has really developed.”

Sights and scents transport Ruth, whose bold designs are a combination of wet felting and needle felting, back to a place with which she built strong emotional bonds. 

"There was a very large lilac tree and mum used to bring the flowers into the house. The perfume of lilac now takes me straight back to the garden,” she says. “Forsythia and lavender have a similar effect.

"And every Sunday in summer I remember dad going into the garden and picking a rose or carnation for his buttonhole before church."

Ruth's mum now suffers from dementia and the artist adds: "Because of that, we are not completely sure if she realises she is never going back to her home, which has been returned to the council.  

"It is very strange and slightly sad that I will never go back either, but producing this work for the Leigh Art Trail has given me an outlet for those feelings and allowed me to celebrate a place I will always hold dear.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Ruth’s delightful work will be displayed at Paul Joseph Eyecare, 90 Elm Road, Leigh-on-Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Please find attached images.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at leigharttrail@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.leigharttrail.com

The act of painting became a meditation

It is incredible to think, looking at Kerry Doyland’s moving work of Leigh-on-Sea fisherman Brum, that this was her very first attempt at a portrait.

Designer and architect Kerry has painted for 16 years, but had never turned her talents to portraiture until last September, when she attended a session at the Estuary Gallery Barge in Leigh Marina.

Now, having been captivated by the subject, she is building a collection of pictures of local characters which will be on display for the first time during the Leigh Art Trail from June 9-16.

“Brum sat so still and so peacefully that the act of painting him became more of a meditation,” explains Kerry.

“Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of painting several more of the Marina folk and without exception they have been just as calm and focused as Brum.

“For all of them, it was their first experience of sitting for a portrait. Perhaps it’s something to do with the sea air or a passion for messing around in boats that imbues these sitters with such a sense of tranquility.

“Whatever it is, engaging with them through paint is a joy for me.”

Kerry works in acrylics using a large brush and can complete a portrait in two hours, including a 20-minute break for coffee! “I’m able to capture a surprising amount of detail in a short time,” she says.

And the portraits are an ongoing project, with Leigh-on-Sea’s fishing community an especially rich source of subjects for Kerry.

“I’ve started inviting sitters to Two Tree Gallery in Leigh, which I share with other local artists, and to the Loft at Leigh Community Centre,” she adds.

“I’m really looking forward to capturing in paint more of the wonderful characters in our seaside town.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Kerry's beautiful work will be displayed at Heels by Vanessa, 35 Broadway, Leigh-on-Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Please find attached images.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at leigharttrail@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.leigharttrail.com

The true price of fast fashion

Local artist GWEN SIMPSON has taken on a mammoth textiles project which highlights the true price of cheap high street fashion - and she wants the whole community to get involved during the Leigh Art Trail.

Gwen’s mission is to make 1,130 textile pieces - one for each of the people killed when the Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh collapsed five years ago. Most of the dead were garment workers producing clothes for chains including Primark and Matalan.

“There have been many tragedies in the textile industry, driven by our demand for cheaper clothing and the fast fashion business itself, but this was by far the deadliest to date,” said Gwen.

“The factory had been declared unsafe the day before, but workers were persuaded to return. Heavy industrial sewing machines on the top five stories, substandard building materials and vibrations from generators used when the electricity failed all contributed to the collapse.”

To honour those who lost their lives and highlight the plight of millions more still subjected to shocking conditions as they make cut-price clothes for Western markets, Gwen is assembling a remarkable textile hanging which will measure 24ft x 9ft.

The centre-piece is deconstructed denim clothing, showing how many components go into a finished item, and now she wants members of the public to join her in stitching more than 1,000 patchwork pieces from recycled fabric to surround it.

“People of all ages are welcome to participate, even if they have never used a needle and thread,” said Gwen, who found she had a flair for making her own clothes when she was an art student.

“The textile pieces measure just 4.5inch x 6inch, so everyone should feel able to have a go. So far my youngest helper was four and the oldest a lady in her 80s.”

It is hoped the finished hanging will be displayed at the prestigious 2019 Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, before it is sold to raise money for children orphaned by the Rana Plaza disaster. Gwen is running workshops for her Connecting Threads project during the Leigh Art Trail at Leigh Road Baptist Church (Monday June 11, 9.30am-3pm and Wednesday June 13, 7pm-10pm), Wesley Methodist Church (Wednesday June 13, 10am-2pm) and Leigh Community Centre (Saturday June 16, 10am-2pm).

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Gwen’s work in progress will be displayed at Leigh Road Baptist Church, Marguerite Drive, Leigh-on-Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Images available, please make contact.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at leigharttrail@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.leigharttrail.com

Not all things go to plan

Alison Bournes.jpg

A massive gunpowder explosion blew up famed flagship The London on March 7, 1665, killing more than 300 crew and sinking her near Southend-on- Sea. The London had been anchored at the Nore and was preparing to head off to war with the Dutch.

The wreck remains on the seabed three-and- a-half centuries later, close to Southend Pier, and in recent years divers have been bringing up artefacts before they are lost for ever to the sea.

These finds are the inspiration for an exciting project by mixed media artist ALISON BOURNES entitled “Not all things go to plan”. This work will be shown for the first time during the 2018 Leigh Art Trail, which runs from June 9-16.

Alison said: “I’ve been able to handle some of the finds from the wreck, ranging from wax candles, pewter spoons, rope, linstocks for firing cannons, glass bottles and leather shoes worn by the sailors of the ship. It was fascinating and thought-provoking.

“The leather shoes really moved me. There in front of me was evidence of the human loss from this tragic accident, preserved so beautifully for 350 years in the silt of the Thames Estuary.

“I felt I needed to make a response and the shoes were my starting point.”

Alison’s exhibition features 300 pairs of ceramic shoes, individually made and stamped with symbols and words detailing the lives of those lost when the ship went down, as well as the effort that went into retrieving and preserving them.

Alison added: “The exhibition also touches on the fact there are no records of those who died, although the time in which they lived saw England on the cusp of being a maritime world power.

“My work reflects our relationship to the sea, past and present, and the effect it can have on our lives, especially when things don’t go to plan and the unexpected happens.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Alison’s beautiful work will be displayed at Store Thirty3, Elm Road, Leigh-on- Sea, during the Leigh Art Trail. Hi-res images available on request.

The Leigh Art Trail celebrates its 21st year in 2018, showcasing the work of more than 60 artists in local shops, cafes and businesses from June 9-16.

For more information, contact Leigh Art Trail publicity coordinator Joe Scotland at leigharttrail@hotmail.co.uk or visit www.leigharttrail.com