12:34pm Tuesday 14th August 2012
HOW Does Your Garden Grow?, the summer exhibition of pretty pictures all in a row at Art in the Mill in Knaresborough, lets you potter around the living frames and artists at work in Green Dragon Yard, where Elaine Grinter’s gallery is sited.
The exhibition forms part of the Arts Trail at FEVA, Knaresborough’s ten-day Festival of Entertainment and Visual Arts.
Among the names on show is allotment artist and dedicated gardener Chris Cyprus, who set up his easel to capture FEVA’s scarecrow competition on canvas at Sunday’s Knarseborough Allotments open day, to mark National Allotments Week and launch the festival.
A keen allotment holder in his own right, he is noted for his naïve style of painting allotments, which he developed after near-death expereinces persuaded him in his early 30s to make a living out of his passion for art.
Two bouts of cancer and two bizarrely close brushes with the Twin Towers and London bombing terror outrages prompted his decision. “Having cancer and narrowly avoiding catastrophic attacks made me see that you only get one life and you have to make the most of it,” says Chris, now 41. “Painting and seeking solace in the peace of my allotment make me happy.” Chris, who is a member of the Association of British Naïve Artists, was commissioned by the National Allotments Week organisers to paint the event’s promotional poster, and now signed copies of his Open Day print are on sale at Art in the Mill.
He works from a studio in a former cotton mill in Lancashire, where his pictures are rooted in scenes on allotments that have barely changed in a generation. The naïve outlines of broad-backed figures in braces, hunched over spades with pipes in their mouths and caps on their heads capture the pensioners who have been tending their plots for decades.
“I see my vocation as recording life in pictures and capturing an ever-changing landscape,” says Chris.
“The thing with allotments is that they’re under constant threat by local councils having to meet increasing demand for new housing. Maybe there won’t be any allotments in 50 years from now. I hope in the future my work will be valued as a pictorial documentary, like Lowry’s is today.”
Chris has experienced grown men born in cotton-spinning towns shed a tear as his paintings take them down memory lane. Collectors of his work, meanwhile, have been known to copy his work on to their own allotment sheds.
All will be rosy in this garden show until September 30, not only for Chris Cyprus but also fellow exhibiting artists Laney Birkhead, Heather Dormer, Jack Stancombe, Ray Mutimer, Raymond Fearn, Mary Woodin, Paula Hickey and Mark Sofilas, plus ceramicists Linda Bulleyment, Eric Moss and Ann Johnson.
In all, the FEVA Art Trail features 19 exhibition, including Olympic Art by art makers from Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre; Michael Welch’s one-day sculpture show on August 18 at the Frazer Theatre; and Wish You Were Here, curator Shaeron Caton-Rose’s selection of artists’ responses to the idea of tourism and place in postcard form, at Knaresborough Post Office. Visit feva.info for more details.
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