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© Frank Kiely

Pure printmaking

The latest art exhibition at Powdermills Hotel in Battle featured an impressive internationally exhibited roster of artists and printmakers. Joe Fearn went along to the private view for HOT.

© Anita Klein

Last year’s art exhibition at Powdermills Hotel was very nearly my last one! I stupidly decided to avoid the £5 taxi fare from the railway station by walking to the venue down Powdermills Road. I strongly advise anyone who visits the picturesque Powdermills Country House Hotel to go by car. The long narrow road has no pavements, and traffic is fast and furious.

The venue itself, an 18th century Country House in 150 acres of parkland, woods and lakes, is well worth a visit. It overlooks the battlefield where William the Conqueror defeated King Harold, and, interestingly, also served as a hub of gunpowder production for Guy Fawkes’ failed attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

As visitors entered the newly built high-spec combined exhibition hall and conference centre, we were each offered a glass of champagne. A good start! The exhibition is organised by PURE Arts Group, the Rye-based arts marketing and promotion business. The exhibition focused on the role of printmaking. Demonstrations took place throughout the exhibition showing visitors various print processes, including dry point, copper-plate etching, mezzotint and collagraphy.

Collagraphy (sic)

No, that last word is not a spelling mistake, the term collagraph refers to a collage board where the materials are assembled on a flat base or plate (matrix) to form a relief block with different surface levels and textures. Collagraph plates are created by sticking and gluing materials like textured paper or fabric onto the plate. So now you know.

Demo prints signed by the artist were available to purchase on the day with all proceeds going to MERU, a charity that exists to improve life for children and young people with disabilities. I would have loved to have attended the demos later in the week, but I got yet another Hastings bug, and I was too ill to travel (also the reason for writing this up a full week later, apologies all round). I felt that the art and the venue went well together, a point noted by Event organiser Lesley Samms:

“The PURE Spring Art Fair brings together, for the first time under one roof, some of the most exciting contemporary artists from this country and abroad. It is a superb opportunity for everyone and anyone to enjoy and purchase bespoke pieces of work.”

Interestingly, PURE events are purposefully impermanent, taking place in interesting and unusual spaces such as churches, commercial and industrial buildings and distinctive hotels.

Artists’ line-up

The artists on view included Dawn Cole, Trevor Price RE, Mychael Barratt RE, Frank Kiely RE, Fernando Feijoo RE, Brenda Hartill RE (Curator), Carole Hensher RE, Katherine Jones, Anita Klein PPRE and Toni Martina RE.

© Frank Feijoo

I really enjoyed the work of Fernando Feijoo, whose art has a real sense of humour while reflecting the darker side of human nature. I noticed something new in his images every time I went back to them. Frank Kiely, who graduated in 2002 from the Royal College of Art, was particularly impressive, as was Trevor Price, who was named printmaker of the year in 2011.

© Toni Martina

My favourite piece of work was from Hastings artist Toni Martina. His depiction of people milling around in a London market was mesmeric, the figures appearing to actually move as I contemplated them. (Nothing to do with champagne, honest). Hopefully, PURE will make this a regular event, as they try to establish new and innovative ways for artists to create, exhibit and sell their work.

Posted 18:12 Monday, Apr 23, 2012 In: Arts News

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