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'Pier' © Cathy Simpson

Twitterings and catcreeps: Cathy Simpson at the Weekend Gallery

Hastings Online Times is very blessed to have Cathy Simpson on the team. As well as contributing articles, she provides delightful illustrations, like the fabulous pirate day drawings to complement Kate Tym’s poem, and the stressed A-level student for Sean O’Shea’s column. She currently has an exhibition at The Weekend Gallery in Hastings Old Town. Erica Smith went along to see a whole new side of HOT’s talented ‘toonster.

Artist Cathy SimpsonGuessing what kind of art someone might create is a bit like guessing what someone’s singing voice will be like… you can never really tell. So I was very curious to see Cathy Simpson’s ‘fine art’ at The Weekend Gallery.

'Windchimes' © Cathy SimpsonMy first impression on entering the gallery was that each of the 25 pieces were like brightly coloured jewels. Looking at them more closely, I could recognise Cathy’s drawing style, and motifs like her trademark birds. Her watercolour paintings are richly decorative, and more detailed than her commissioned illustrations, but the compositions retain her sense of humour and celebration of the little things that make life special.

Cathy says she sees no differentiation between her cartoon work, illustration and fine art compositions, and looking at this exhibition made me understand what she means. Her work is full of detail and movement which is rendered in a geometric way that made me think of medieval textiles. These paintings benefit from the extra time and concentration that can be given to ‘labours of love’ rather than a jobbing illustration with a short deadline. It is the same brain and hand that creates, but these pieces are little symphonies rather than three-minute pop songs.

Hastings Old Town Residents' Association © Cathy SimpsonIt is also heartening to see that Cathy’s most recent work, since she moved to Hastings less than a year ago, is her brightest and most joyous. She puts it down to the wonderful seaside light. I think it is because she gets Hastings and St Leonards, and enjoys documenting our higgledy-piggledy town with its steep hills, catcreeps and twittens, our little gardens and big herring gulls.

Scorpion at the Dinner Table © Cathy SimpsonThe most detailed (and dark) painting, Scorpion at the Dinner Table, is an earlier work, where she developed her intricate style – analytical cubism. The Bauhaus master of colour and pattern, Paul Klee, is an acknowledged influence on Simpson’s style. My personal favourite image, a recent one of a herring gull sitting in front of a geometric pier, is reminiscent of Edward Bawden’s work.

I like the fact that there is artwork available to suit all pockets, with beautiful unframed giclée prints starting at £55, framed prints from £90, and original watercolours from £550.00. All of them little jewels which would light up a small corner of any Hastings’ home.

Twitterings and Catcreeps is on show at The Weekend Gallery, High Street, Hastings Old Town until Sunday 19 August. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 11am–5pm. The gallery also has a lovely permanent collection of ceramics and jewellery, and runs a part-payment plan for buying works of art.

Posted 11:49 Thursday, Aug 2, 2012 In: Visual Arts

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