Artists’ Open House Dulwich Festival

I think I was in heaven today. The sun was shining, as I set out after a hearty egg and bacon sandwich around midday. The next 6 hours would be spent visiting and talking to artists in their homes and looking at their work displayed above  sofas in front rooms, or in the kitchen and corridors. For the next two weeks, artists around Dulwich are opening their homes and studios to the public, from 11am until 6pm over the weekend. 

I had looked through the catalogue, obtained from Carnegie library, and had circled various points on a map before I left. They ranged from Denmark Hill, to Herne Hill, West Norwood to Forest Hill. I could plan this, I thought,  but I decided just to walk to the first destination I came across and so ended up down Lovelace Road. 

Paul Gildea was sunning himself in the garden as I arrived. He had both portraits of family members in unusual poses, which loosely reminded me of Paula Rego and also interesting urban landscapes created on location at sites such as Brixton and Herne Hill velodrome, upon thin strips of hardboard. The paint marks were energetic and loose, to capture a specific moment in time. He  told me he would begin a piece before the lighting was ‘right’ and then complete it just before it turned again. He also told me he never works from photographs and therefore his paintings are quite fresh and lively as they are quickly painted. I personally enjoyed looking at a couple of clouded scenes of London with chunky brush strokes of different greys. The flat surface, as opposed to canvas seemed to accentuate the mark making.

From there, I visited a collection of artists: Priscilla Watkins, who was displaying hyperreal paintings of swimmers in Brockwell Lido. There was also Dilys Gane who sculpts in all kinds of materials. Her work was on display across her entire back garden. There was also a fantastic weaver, called Alison Coe. I spoke with her husband as she was not around at the time. He showed me handmade papers that she had created using elephant dung, leeks and other vegetables. She also had incredibly intricate woven art which was delicately embellished with hand sewn elements. I asked Dilys if she would mind me photographing her garden to put on my blog. Here are some pictures of her creations.

Dilys Gane’s back garden

This  crystal styled piece was made from a broken car window. Dilys told me how she had cleared  it from the road near her home and a road sweeper had told her that she should not be doing his job. She set the glass fragments with resin.

Here is a ceramic version

The next stop was All Saint’s Church. The setting was pretty spectacular. The exhibiting artists had created a green sticky tape path, which wove around the interior of the church taking the visitors along a journey between pastel drawings, monorprints, paintings and textile work. Dance the path is a “collaborative installation by six SLWA artists, based on The wave Dance by Gabrielle Roth.”

Artists  listed at All Saint Church are  Dana Finch, Joan Eytle Kendall, Moira Jarvis, Ilinca Cantacuzino, Maria Beddoes, Lucy Duke

 Moira Jarvis

I really loved Moira Jarvis’ monoprints. They were expressive and minimal and very  intriguing to look at. Her method was to mono print and press upon zinc plates, sometimes gradually building up layers or working into the surface with scrim to remove ink or by scratching and mark making on the surface.

Here is a link to her website for more information. She is part of a collective called South London Women Artists.

Another interesting exhibition was in the home of Annie Price. She had begun painting at a class with a friend called Helen Tybdale Biscoe and they were both showing their work on the walls of the kitchen, living room and dining room. I had on my Hunter wellies and was very conscious of walking on Annie’s lovely clean carpet, but my boots were not muddy, thankfully. I wish I had taken them off at the door though. 

Here is a vibrant landscape by Helen.

I particularly fell in love with Annie’s intimate ink and bleach studies. They seemed to capture nooks and crevices with in the landscape, with an easy flourish.

I also fell in love with her moon paintings. I really need to ask her for a better copy of this one as you can see me in the reflection. She painted a series of sunrises whilst on holiday and liked them so much, she decided to do the moon too. She painted many versions as the light of the sun and moon changed as time passed. 

Next I took the train to West Norwood to catch up with a friend from the Royal College of Art. Paul Savage was working in an Acme run studio space along East Place. He had not taken part in the festival as he was in the midst of creating a new body of work. His inspiration is  based on fragments from acquired vintage imagery, such as the national geographic and old photographs of mystery people he has come across. Paul also uses the memory of paintings he has seen in books and exhibitions, which then infiltrate into his composistions. I could recognise a fragment of a  Philip Guston character appearing from a landscape on one  canvas. I decided I would love to interview him, as his work is looking  really exciting, but its got to be when his next body of work is completed. I can’t wait! Here is one painting Paul has shown at 1.1 in Redchurch Street.

I also looked in upon  David Lendrum, who has been an artist in residence at East Place for a substantial time. His space was full of colour on both artworks and on the floor. Lendrum works with thick and textured acrylic paint and had large buckets of colour laid out on a worktable ready for action.  My favourite piece, which he told me he completed the day before was this one here, called ‘Shimmer Bright’. It reminded me a little of  Monet’s waterlilies. David Lendrum is interested in the paint being in control and  instigating the sense of  form and depth, rather than starting with a predetermined image. He is an artist that seems to love the physicality of paint and what it can achieve.

I popped into Martin Grover’s space too. His work made me laugh.
See below.

Coffee break at Pullens cafe next to Herne Hill Station.

Last stops of the day, were at the exhibitions of Sue Blandford and Liz Charsley- Jory at Kestrel Ave, both inspired by the landscape of Canada. I made a special detour after my coffee, arriving half an hour before close of day. There were still regular knocks on the door of new visitors and lively banter going on in the kitchen. It felt surreal stepping round the large work top, whilst people chatted, to look at art in someone’s home!!
Here is an example of Sue’s painting below

Here is an incredibly detailed drawing by Liz

 The finale was by an architect who had created skilful watercolour and ink images on rough watercolour paper.   His name was Colin Ferns. His work definitely had an architect lilt to it.
 You can view more here.

I stayed to chat for a while then began my journey home. Tomorrow, I will have to get up earlier to see as much as possible. It really is amazing experience to wander about in the front rooms of artists, both professional and ‘amateur’  to discuss ideas, techniques and inspiration. I really was in heaven today. I strongly recommend you get out there and see some of the work too. It is on tomorrow and next weekend.


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