Category Archives: Exhibition

The Stranger Shows

DSCN1165The visione di uno straniero mostra, (The Foreigner’s Viewpoint Exhibition) was held between the 9th and 24th January 2016, in Citta di Castello, Umbria. It proved to be a great success with a number of works selling, works commissioned and a good quantity of art prints sold.

Show in the snow

What was so very heartening was the sheer number of people who, on a chilly, snowy winter’s evening, made the effort to go out into the town centre. It was estimated that around 80 people come to the cosy surroundings of the ARTe Gallery to eat, drink and amiably talk.

DSCN1158During the week, several events were also arranged to encourage visitors to the show. These included a poetry reading by psychiatrists Tina Lepri and Helen Schick, with a lovely piano arrangement by Alison le Porta. Again there was a good turn out and those who came along had an entertaining evening.

Afternoon tea

Sunday, 17th January, myself and Mrs W hosted an afternoon tea gathering where we explained the history, culture and quirks of tea drinking in Britain. I was rightly assured that Italians are very interested in this strange British behaviour. It ended up as an apt event for a tea room, in which ARTe is established.

DSCN1193My initial skepticism was ill founded as around 30 people came in from the cold to hear me wax lyrical about Britain’s favourite herb and how it came to be so popular. Mrs W had also baked a range of traditional cakes and biscuits beloved by tea drinkers all over the U.K.

Lessons learnt

What I discovered from the exhibiting at ARTe, was that it’s a good idea to arrange other events to coincide with the show. This enables you to get more people through the door, gives additional reasons for promoting the art show and creates further conversations around the art work.

DSCN1202A simple selection of nibbles is guaranteed to bring the public in and something to entertain will keep the interest going. While you hope to sell the paintings, having small reproductions is also a good idea, as not everyone can afford the real thing but would like a memento of your work.

Grazie tutti

I would like to thank to all those who attended the event and especially, Daniela and Nicoletta from ARTe, Roberta from Lingua Piu, as well as Tina, Helen and Alison for their contributions, and Suzanne (Mrs W) for her unwavering support and enthusiasm.

 

Mapping the Town – Painting Castello’s centre

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Castello’s Centro Storico Watercolour & ink, 45 x 25 cm (For Sale)

As the exhibition date draws ever nearer I decided I had time for one last painting. However, what painting would complete the show?

In the end I decided that a street scene around the gallery would be an interesting idea.

Old maps

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Old map

I love the way old map makers, in the 15th century, fitted the streets and buildings into town plans, so I used an image of old Citta di Castello as inspiration.

The gallery is off the main thoroughfare and down a little side street that luckily links some of the town’s landmarks. It can easily be reached from the Duomo, the Civic tower and the Podesta, Castello’s old town hall.

Via Apollinare and Via del Popolo are normal Italian streets, lined with small, old churches and restaurants. The entrance to the market and a collection of shops can also be found here. Narrow, cobbled and brightly coloured, it’s similar to a thousand others all over the country but this one has the Tea Shop Gallery where the works will be on display.

Steamy sky

Citta di Castello street

Via del Popolo

The sky went through a number of permutations, fluffy, feathery and speckled, before finally settling on an abstract blue/purple swirl.

As the show is in a tearoom the idea was to create a sky that had the feeling of a boiling kettle or a steaming hot cup of tea. It was initially a pale blue but the tower was lost against it, so I tried a bolder approach.

No greenage

Another difference is the total lack of green. Just for a change I made a conscious decision to leave out any green in this painting. Umbria is known as the green heart of Italy and my paintings are normally full of verdant tones.

If you are in the area between the 9th and 17th January (2016) it will be great to see you. Why not call in for a cuppa? Ciao Neal!

Show can be seen  at:-

ARTe, Sala di Te, Via della Apollinare, Citta di Castello.

A Stranger’s Visions

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The next show from the UmbriArt Gallery will feature twelve watercolours depicting the central Italian countryside. The Associazione ARTè ‘s gallery space in Citta di Castello’s Sala di Te (Tearoom) will provide the venue.

Sala di Tè

DSCN5946.JPGThe ex-sacristy Sant Sebastiano is a lovely venue in which to exhibit art. It is an intimate and historic space, with the aromatic scents and  flavours of tea filling the air. There is a nice contemporary feel to it, blending the old structure and modern fittings.

As Lingua Piu have kindly offered to sponsor the show, it was thought that the inclusion of some additional cultural events would be good to increase interest in the exhibition.

Week long events

So … the vernisage, opening night is the 9th January, on the Sunday night (10th January) the lovely, Alison Oldham will treat us to some live piano music. The following Saturday (16th January) there is”An Evening on the Couch” as psychiatrists Dr Lepre and Schick entertain us with poetry readings in Italian and English.

Umbria towns

Sunday the 17th is “Tea with the Winfields” as Mrs W and myself will explain the mysteries of British tea traditions and history. I’m often asked about our tea drinking activities and so this is the ideal occasion to explain the best way to drink tea.

Tea and cake

Painting Medieval village

An enlightening trip through tealand, with the addition of some Victoria sponges, scones, Bara brith and cup cakes bringing an end to an exciting week.

If you find yourself in the Upper Tiber Valley or near Citta di Castello in the New Year, please call in and have a look around. Why not, grab a cuppa and five minutes break  in the town’s rapidly growing art venue.

Gallery

ARTè, Sala di Tè, Via Sant’ Apollinare, Citta di Castello.

 

Art Show in the Ex-Tobacco Building

Art galleries have a long history of recycling old spaces, putting them to new and creative uses. The Ex-Tobacco Building in Umbertide, Italy is no different. After a €5.9m overhaul the old factory unit and surrounding grounds have been transformed into an arts, performance space with children’s play area and sports facilities outside.

Transforming the building

Transforming the building

Exhibition space Umbertide

This large, fresh space provides a perfect void for showing art. High, whitewashed walls, spacious floor area and a mezzanine level for more intimate gatherings.

Inauguration

Inauguration

I was honoured to have been asked to be a part of the inauguration ceremony on the 24th October 2015, with the inclusion of seven of my paintings. Six other talented artists and sculptors displayed their works and the evening was topped off with a delicious buffet and an entertaining musical duet. Those who attended were treated to a cultural as well as a nourishing feast and it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces there.

Opening night

By the numbers in attendance the event proved a great success and Umbertide now has an excellent area where its inhabitants can show off their skills and talents in this interesting building.

Umbertide painting

Umbertide painting

While Umbria’s once flourishing tobacco industry is rapidly being replaced, it is nice to see that the architecture of this period is being kept alive and put to new and creative uses.  It would probably be easier just to knock the old factories down and start again but then you lose the history of how the area developed. Hopefully more of these crumbling ruins and derelict buildings, with a little imagination, can be put to good use.

The Galleries of London

My trip to London  last week, after an absence of twenty years, gave me the chance to look around four of the best art galleries anywhere in the world. The National, Tate Modern, Tate Britain and The National Portrait Gallery.

There are a number of noteable places where you can see art while in London, but these are the big hitters. The four house some of the most iconic images produced over the last thousand years.

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Trafalga Square and The National

The National Gallery

The National Gallery in Trafalga Square is the jewel in London’s art crown. There are over 2,300 masterpieces to view for free. As he lived on my doorstep, in Italy, the highlight of the trip for me was the chance to gaze over Piero della Francesca’s “Baptism of Christ”. Other classics include Jan van Eyck’s portrait of the Arnolfini Family, “The Battle of San Romano” by Uccello and “Venus and Mars” by Botticelli.

British artists are not forgotten here and JMW Turner’s “The Fighting Temeraire”, Constable’s “Hay Wain” and John Stubb’s leggy horses are all on show.  Monet, Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Michelangelo, Raphael and Gainsborough, the list goes on and on. Whatever painter or period you love, The National is likely to have an example of their work.

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Interior of the Tate Modern

Tate Modern

The Gothic, temple-like structure of Bankside’s old power station houses the best in contemporary art. Regular changes in exhibitions mean that there is a constant surprise to anyone who visits the gallery. The Surrealists were well represented at the Modern, with “Metamorphosis of Narcissus” and “Autumnal Canabalism” by Salvador Dali being popular with visitors.

The works of Picasso, de Chirico, Man Ray, Kandinsky and Braque were all on show. My favourite was the marvellous collection of etchings by Alexander Brodsky showing his impossiblly futuristic townscapes.

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Lady of Shalot

Tate Britain

The halls of Tate Britain contain an excellent selection of works from the 1500s until the present day. Covering all schools, periods and styles it is a fabulous gathering of free to view classics. Recent discussions with a friend led me to the Pre-Raphaelite room and I was not disappointed, works by Rossetti, Millais, Waterhouse and Hunt gave me plenty to marvel at.

Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy

Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy

There were also some lovely pieces by Hockney, especially the large painting of Mr & Mrs Clark and Percy,  as well as Francis Bacon’s haunting use of colour. My converstaions over death, addiction and suicide amongst artists gave particular poinance to Rosetti’s palid “Beata Beatrix” and Millais’ mournful “Ophillia”.

The sala of Tate Britain also had a wonderful group of JWM Turner’s works and it is here that his sketch books, with prior arrangement, can be viewed. The dark recesses of Clore Gallery on the upper floor are a group of William Blake’s mysterious paintings.

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Henry VIII

The National Portrait Gallery

Around the corner from the National, you’ll find The Portrait Gallery, a who’s who from down the ages. There are the stylised paintings of old kings and queens, plus contemporary depictions of pop and sportstars, politicians and union leaders and the imfamous captured by the famous. Over the last 150 years or more the National Portrait Gallery has been the custodian of the nations family album and it’s archives provide an in insight into the changing face of celebrity.

It was fascinating to see the much used portrait of King Richard III  on the day he was reburied in Leicester. The picture, painted in the late 16th century by an unknown artist, has become the familiar image of the last king of the house of York. There is also the impressively large and strange satirical musings of Gilbert and George.

Other London Art Galleries

Brodsky

Brodsky

The four art galleries are within easy reach of each other and contain enough culture to keep you entertained for a week. Luckily the “Keep Art Available” attitude in Britain means all of these places are free to enter, with charges only levied for specific guest exhibitions.

Alongside the big galleries, London has excellent exhibitions in the Whitechaple Gallery, with such luminaries as Frida Kahlo, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. The Serpentine Gallery in the centre of Hyde Park and the unique Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens. The Barbican and Hayward galleries put on significant shows throughout the year and the Saachi Museum of Contemporary Art profiles many of the world’s young artists. There is more to be found in the Royal Academy of Art and at Somerset House where a rich collection of Impressionist work can be found.

All in all London provides you with a great chance for viewing art and with generous photo opportunities, cafes and free access, they represent a fabulous way to see the works of some ot the world’s greatest painters and sculptors.

The Trials of Arranging an Exhibition

Chiesa san fedele

San Fedele Church, Montone

Well it’s finally happened, I’ve got a venue, title and date to exhibit my work. “Points on the Horizon” will open in the gorgeous town of Montone, Umbria, where they will be holding their Festa della Bosco (Festival of the Forest), between the 30th October and 2nd November. They have agreed to let me exhibit my work in the little Chiesa San Fedele during this festival.

Setting up an exhibition

Tuscan hermitage

St Francis’ Convent at La Verna

The big question now is what do I show, how should I display them and what else do I need?  I’ve experience of showing work previously but never on my own so this is a little bit of a step into the unknown.

I figure that you should have confidence in your work and just go ahead with it. So that’s one worry out of the way. I think it’s a good idea to offer prints of some of the paintings to those who visit and there is the chance for those who are interested to buy the originals.

Including notes that acknowledge those who’ve lent you back your work and describe the meaning behind paintings (people love the story of a picture). Sometimes quirky styles need that backup, it saves letting viewers read things into the work that wasn’t there.

What to take

Interior space

Interior space

A great venue (tick), nice lighting (tick) and good display boards (under review) are all essential components. Eye-catching posters and publicity material will encourage foot traffic and it is important to build the buzz over the internet. If you can get the local press or radio involved then there is no harm. A P.T. Barnum said “There’s no such thing as bad publicity” and it is important to spread the word.

Opening events are a good time to celebrate and recognise your supporters and backers. These are the ones that have carried you through the hard times and it’s only fair to let them join in your good times. It also gives you a chance to invite possible future collectors and gallery owners who might provide your next opportunity.

Marketing future events

Last of all keep records comments books and build contact lists. This is afterall a marketing event, designed to raise your profile and build your brand. But I think best of all its a happy time of reflection and contemplation. A good time to review your work and decide where to take things next.

So that’s my plan for the next three weeks, any thoughts, advice or suggestions most welcome. Hopefully see you there. 🙂