Review of The Dolphin Gallery’s “Celebrating The Ridgeway” exhibition

On Thursday 14 July 2022 I visited the Dolphin Gallery in Wantage to see and exhibition celebrating the Ridgeway for Wantage art month.

It included art from Anna Dillon, Lin Kerr, Sue Wheeler, Gus Mills and Lawrence Ward who all had very different styles: some more realistic, some more abstract and all using different colours in order to emit different feelings to the viewer. But they all had one thing in common: they depicted the Ridgeway and the surrounding areas; whether that be of a sunset peaking over the horizon, colourful crop fields or a more mystical take on the landscape they were all formed from the same inspiration. 

When we arrived they were handing out free Pimm’s in the garden which had lots of sculptures on display and where they were playing music. At the front desk, they were handing out a sheet with an OS map of the Ridgeway around White Horse Hill. It had five numbers on it in different locations. You had to find the five art pieces with the letters next to them and try and work out what the locations of those pieces were on the map, then, write them on the back. If you got them all right you would get a chance of winning a £200 voucher to buy an art piece of your choice.

My mum and I managed to work them all out so hopefully we got them all right, fingers crossed…

Overall, the art was stunning. With a wide range of styles and medias there really was something for everyone. There was a wide range of paintings and prints on every wall as well as several small sculptures on a low shelf.

Personally, I think that the art was amazing. Anna Dillon’s work was probably my favourite because of the bold colours and lines. However, I also really liked Lin Kerr’s paintings as well: I think that they conveyed the most meaning and had the most impact. 

Read on to find out more about the artists and click on the links to find out more and view their work.

About the artists

Anna Dillion moved to Oxfordshire at the age of seven.

On her website she wrote “the ancient countryside of the British Isles and Ireland continually inspires me to paint vibrant and colourful landscapes” as she loves the outdoors. Her love for the use of bright colours is evidential in her work as her use of bold streaks “reflects the form, contours and light of the land.” She uses oil paint to create her work, allowing for the characteristic bold streaks of her work, bright colour being a particular quality of oil paint.

Linn Kerr also paints using oils, which allows artist to keep going back and editing the previous layer rather than having to add additional layers over the top which would be necessary for medias such as acrylic paint. Her website explains that she “exploits oil paints in layers of scratching back and adding marks, using a variety of tools and often just fingers or a palette knife to manipulate the paint. She often works over a background of text which is physically integrated yet stylistically juxtaposed adding contemplation.” 

But she don’t just work with oil paint; she also has roots in calligraphy and graphic design for which she has won many prizes in. Her paintings often have a mystical feeling, created by using light tones and lines that you can’t quite pick apart…

Sue Wheeler is a printmaker based in Radley, near Oxford. Her art is mainly linocut, woodcut or monoprint. She uses the characteristic blocks of colour from these techniques to create bold shapes and tones that draw the viewer’s eye and depict different shapes and landscapes.

Lino cutting is a process where you use a sharp tool to cut away at a piece of lino and use a roller to spread printing ink over the cut side. You then place a piece of paper or fabric over the lino: the cut-out areas will be remain as the colour of the paper but the ink will have printed onto the rest. If you want more colours you simply cut the image out of another piece of lino (or the same one) and print it in a new colour.

Wood cutting is very similar but you use a chisel and hammer instead to cut out the unwanted material. Thias is more challenging as you may have to fight against the grain.

Mono printing is a process where you ink up a flat surface and place you paper or fabric on top. Then you use a pen or pencil to draw over the areas you want printed, being careful not to press down with your hand (otherwise you will end up with a hand print). The areas on which you press down will end up inked. Mono printing allows you to create finer detail that the other two processes but can turn out quite messy. If you want more solid blocks of colour the other two techniques are more useful.

 

Gus Mills is an artist who uses watercolour to paint his landscapes.

His website states that “he was initially inspired to paint landscapes by visits to the Lake District.” He also taught at the Grove Adult Education Centre and continues to share his talent and own unique style with young artists. His unique watercolours are composed of blocky shapes that create bold shadows and highlights in his work, along with the soft gradients that are more characteristic for this media.

Lawrence Ward is a artist based in Stanford-in-the-Vale who inherited his love for painting from his father who was a watercolourist. Ward spent hours learning from his work. 

He later re-discovered his love for painting in his retirement after pursuing a carrier in engineering rather than art. He mostly uses acrylic for his work, focusing on the realism of of the paining rather than adapting it in his own way saying that he “could leave the shock and horror genre to others.” But his work is not without style; he often uses small strokes of colour in his work rather than entirely relying on blending. This creates a more textured look to his pieces and gives them his own artistic flair.

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