It’s about Time . . . . .

The system of those sequential relations that any event has to any other, as past, present, or future; indefinite and continuous duration regarded as that in which events succeed one another.

An exhibition by Sara, Judith, Bob and Maggie about ‘Time’.
Media will include jewellery, collagraphs glass and sculpture.
May 2013 Screamin Chicken Gallery.
And about time too.

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Spot the Chicken

Long Tall Sally

Long Tall Sally

You may remember Long Tall Sally from the Knitting Exhibition?

Well not only is she responsible for a whole lot of smiling but she is now being used to help spread the news of our gallery around our town.  So Sally along with some of her friends are now in various places around town.

ready to hit town

Ready to Hit Town

Clarissa at the Walls

Clarissa at the Walls

Lolita at the Library

Lolita at the Library

More chickens to follow – who knows where and indeed who knows when?

ttfn S



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Group Show

This month The Chicken Gallery is staging a group show. Here are a few of the exhibits you can see there. The show runs until December 6th and the Gallery is open Weds, Thurs, Fri, Sat. 11am-3pm.

Jas Davidson : Chatting up the birds

Allanah Piesse: The Crow

Bob Knowles: Flowering technology

Bob Knowles: Flowering technology (detail)

Annie Tullo: Birds over water

Sara Piper Heap: Poppies (Enamel on copper)

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Hounds at the Chicken by Meg Campbell

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The word ‘hound’ has an ancient ring about it, you can hear it speak, it conjures up a history and a mythology. They are hunting dogs bred either for their speed or their scent and, like all dogs, are genetically related to the loping wolf.

The three artists interviewed are all fascinated by myths and folklore. They speak of stories of Welsh ghost hounds, black dogs, the Norse god Odin often depicted alongside two wolves or hounds, King Arthur’s hound Cadfel, and further back in time Cerberus the multi-headed hound – guardian at the gates of the underworld, and Orthrus the two headed hell hound.

It’s unusual for the Chicken gallery to have an exhibition with a theme but the artists participating in this one say it’s challenging, it makes you think in ways you might previously never have dreamt of.

Also it’s one of the aims of the collective to work sometimes as a group: to interact with each other, share ideas, develop and change.

Hound brooch, Sara Piper-Heap

So we see jeweller and metal-smith, Sara Piper-Heap – whose work is in galleries all over the country including London – and who has up until now always produced finely crafted geometric pieces. But for this show she has had to consider the narrative.

She developed her ideas in Bob Knowles’ drawing classes, branched out into the art of enamelling and began to reconsider the way she works.

Sculptor Bob Knowles’ approach to this show has been to observe hounds closely, especially their attitude, which is often assertive but not necessarily threatening. To me he seems to be asking ‘what is the essence, the intrinsic, spare, and unornamented character of this particular animal’?

He says that the most interesting images are moving ones and which can be hard to capture: a rolling hound thrusting its back into the ground, a wind hound, a bird hound . . . these are some of his interesting and successful pieces. Attitude? Definitely.

Sherlock,  Judith Harrison

When asked what attracts her to hounds, Judith Harrison takes up the same theme, the strong and memorable shapes and her interest in the animal’s roots reaching far into the past. Her long running project is to produce a book using her collographs and Sara Piper-Heap’s text (possibly including photos of Sara’s metalwork.) It will feature twenty three historic hounds such as Picasso’s ‘Lump the Dachshund’, and a basset hound called Sherlock that Elvis serenaded on TV with ‘You ain’t nothing but a hound dog’. Four of her excellent collographs for the book are completed to date and are hanging in the gallery.

Recently there has been talk by Shropshire Council of putting metal sculptures of animals such as giraffes, made by a local company, around the town centre to attract tourists.

Councillors, county and town, would do well to take a trip to the Chicken Gallery and take note of the fact there are up to three hundred artists in Oswestry and the surrounding area. Why not use them to enliven the town centre so that it’s a place people want to be?

Are giraffes appropriate for a small market town on the Celtic Fringe? Wouldn’t a pack of hounds be better?

The artists participating in this exhibition are Bob Knowles, Sara Piper-Heap, Judith Harrison, Annie Tullo and Maggie Furmanek.

With thanks to Meg and all at OS21

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Knitting Chicken

Chicken knitting

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If you’re muttering darkly under your breath ‘what’s knitting doing in the Chicken Art Gallery’ think again, you’re behind the times. Knitting is cool, it’s everywhere in London….on the streets (guerrilla knitting) , in the Tate, people are knitting in cafes, on buses , on the underground and in the home.

This month at the Chicken Gallery Becca Tansley is exhibiting her work.

Becca is inspirational because she’s prepared to take on just about anything. She says knitting is an infinite world with an endless range of colours: yarn can be used like paint, mixed and blended, changed at will without loosing the flow. Knitters work with anything like wire, paper, or rope to the finest quality silks and cashmere. And then there is the combination of various stitches to produce patterns and textures which have developed over hundreds  of years.

Even as a small girl on the school bus in Penybontfawr, she remembers unfocusing her eyes and watching the colours and shapes of the passing landscape blur, and wondering how she could get that effect in knitting. Although it was never a conscious decision to become a knitter, it was always part of her life. She loves how you can shape things and create texture using cables, and bobbles. How you can even create illusions with some yarn which, when looked at face on is speckly, but looked at side on is three dimensional.

At trade fairs she sells her own original patterns She has rarely used other people’s from start to finish, preferring to adapt them or create her own designs The knitted corset in the exhibition is one of hers, elegant and original.

In order to attract people to her stand, she hit on the idea of decorating it with knicker bunting …each ‘flag’ being a different coloured and patterned pair of knickers. It did the trick, people were intrigued.

Where does she get her ideas from? Well the ‘barbed wire’ in the Gallery, a constant image in the countryside, was one of the challenges she set herself, later incorporating it into a beanie hat and the straps of a vest.

But ideas come from everywhere she says, whether from a city skyscaper which looked like shipping containers with portholes, one on top of another. Or an evening sky turning from deep blue to slate grey, fading down to green behind the silhouette of huge old trees. Dramatic shapes, colours, she likes them strong: no insipid pastels for her.

Her present project is to make a ladder jumper inspired by the punk era when you might have put your thumb through a jumper or stocking to make the stitches run.

I already want one.

Becca plans to knit her way out of her day job as a nurse. We can only wish her all the best, the very best.

The Gallery was to have displayed work by Oswestry’s guerrilla knitter . . . remember Red Square in the summer? Instead it has two other noteworthy pieces. First a huge ‘dressed’ chicken, and second, a lone chicken on stilts by Sara Piper-Heap and Bob Knowles, already commissioned three times over.

With thanks to all at OS21 especially Meg Cambell

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Differing Dimensions – Des Jones and Tony Roberts

This month The Chicken Gallery is showing work by Des Jones and Tony Roberts.

Des, a local artist born in Johnstown describes himself as being ‘not a rolling stone but one that gathers the moss’. Although he’s had a life-long interest in art, after a degree in geology he worked in the ceramics industry. Since he left, he’s been exhibiting in many places in Shropshire and north Wales. His interests are wide, but he particularly likes drawing and painting jazz and classical musicians, making woodcuts and he’s recently started woodcarving.

Tony’s background is similarly chequered: beginning in a monastery with calligraphy and icons, he went on to clay and then into electronic design. It was only after he set up a consultancy in this field that he turned back to clay ‘as a stress reliever’. Then he tried putting glass into the kiln and the potential of glass art – casting glass not blowing it – fired his imagination. He went on to produce a lot of publicly commissioned work. For 10 years he made monoliths in glass, all basically figurative but as he says ‘abstracted to death’.

Like Des and his musician paintings, Tony’s inspiration comes from people: the figure, face, hand, and what they do. I discovered they both sketch in pubs where, absorbed by the music, people are unaware of their actions and persona and therefore don’t seem to mind the artist’s attention.

Des is interested in the total involvement of the musician, their 110% concentration, verve and energy. He wants to convey the music through the image. But he says getting the movement of the musician is the most difficult thing to achieve. His sketches are often more vibrant because they are so immediate.

His estuary pictures (influenced by Japanese woodcuts) are quite different. He loves that sense of calm in an estuary with its wide low surfaces of earth and sky. But underlying the tranquillity, changes in weather and tide bring unease and uncertainty.

What attracts Tony about glass is the beauty of the refractive and reflective character of light on glass. So, in the gallery his panels hang away from the wall for maximum effect. Or outside they may be hung like mobiles in trees.

But, perhaps rebellious at heart, he likes breaking glassmaking rules: he doesn’t work conventionally. He doesn’t do stained glass, instead he stains glass using metals like silver which produces a brilliant yellow or brass which gives turquoise. The colours can be variable, convoluted and earthy. One of the pieces in the gallery has shattered glass laminated within it.

Recently he’s been asked to make a piece depicting an impression of fish and their flashing colours swimming around coral. Commissions can be challenging and often take him somewhere new, but there is always a difficult…or as he puts it…a hateful side to a commission: hurdles to jump to reach his and the commissioner’s goal.

As I left this interview in the Chicken gallery, I noticed Des was asking Tony if he has any blocks of wood for a carving he’s got in mind. Tony suggests holly which he felled in the wood where he’s recently built his house and workshop. They are friends: that’s why they are exhibiting together. Their art is very different but what they have in common above all is a fascination and excitement in everything they do.

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Freedom of the Mark – Gill Crozier and Janie McLoed

Over a year ago a group of artists set up a number of studios in the Cambrian Buildings behind Sainsburys. One of these spaces has been given over to the Chicken gallery, arguably the best in Oswestry. Although small, it’s the perfect place to dive into and meet with an explosion of colour, line and form – opening your mental space, on a dull day, to optimism and life.

There is a different exhibition each month. This month it’s the turn of Gill Crozier and Janie McLeod to display part of their touring show, “Freedom of the Mark.”

Walk This Way: Janie McLeod

I met them one rainy day last week. A few minutes into the interview I realized I had a potential Gilbert and George double act before me: they had so many things in common.

First, they both get their inspiration from landscape, and apart from the Welsh Borders, they have a passion for Cornwall. Why? Because they’re interested in that special quality of light where sea meets land.

Second, both are interested in the physicality of paint and colour.

Third, when I ask them which artists they are most influenced by, they burst out laughing and say Peter Lanyon. His methods and philosophy interest them. Janie goes further: she says his paintings distil all the things she’s aiming for.

They also like Samuel Palmer, 1950’s British art, Pollock, Rothko, Heron, W. Barns-Graham and Peter Doig.

I’m intrigued to know what the process of making a painting is for them, and how it has developed and changed over the years.

Bosigran: Gill Crozier

Gill says her work is always developing, but the trend is to simplify, to get a clearer vision. In every painting there is always a point of deconstruction and panic: she’s always challenging herself to be more daring, building up layers of visuals, emotion and experience ‘to make things happen’ She describes her art, tentatively, as being semi abstract. She begins with her sketch book – to get a conversation going. Or she may be inspired by a line of poetry or a particular colour. Recently she did a very successful painting in which the starting point was merely to reproduce a particular luminous green.

Janie describes herself as an abstract expressionist. She says she has no choice between doing realist or abstract art: it’s just the way it is. It’s also her opinion that ‘no work should be easy’.

She has no image in mind before she starts, no preparatory sketches, no sketch book…though she does have an ipad The starting point is the landscape and her emotional response to it. Memories are not stored in her head but in her heart, and the paintings emerge.

Over the years she’s become more confident about the marks she makes, more sure about what she has to say, more certain that she can make marks that convey a meaning. She’s moved from acrylics to oils, and from using brushes to bits of plastic to enable her to make marks in a more sculptural way.

Blue Boat 2: Janie McLeod

For the future, she plans to get bigger.

Gill says painting is with her all the time: it’s her life unfolding, her way of interpreting reality, and the perception of all things. Everything she does comes into her art.

Likewise for Janie: it governs every aspect of her life, how she spends her time, the places she inhabits, the people she spends time with. It’s the fabric on which everything else hangs.

Is this Oswestry’s Gilbert and George – two women, one artist?

No . . . ! Shared outlook – very different art.

Gill Crozier and Janie McLeod’s exhibition runs from July 11th to August 4th at The Chicken Gallery (ex Screamin’ Chicken). Open Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat. 11am-3pm

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