Emotions in Clay Portraiture with Jo Pearl
23rd January 2024
A sculptor based in North London, Jo Pearl works in clay for its tactile plasticity, its ability to record expressionist mark making and its transformation when fired. Jo is fascinated with the six emotions Charles Darwin saw as fundamental to human evolution: happiness, sadness, fear, surprise, disgust and anger and showed a stop-frame animation of her work in clay which allows her to create an illusion of life and explore these emotions. She has exhibited collections of heads on this theme.
Still Life with a difference
9th January 2024
This practical session was a last minute change from the programme and there were five still life setups around the hall but with a difference.
Members had only half an hour at each still life before moving on to the next setup. These were quick half hour sessions with no time to fiddle in the detail. It was suggested that a different approach should be used on each setup and that different mediums should be employed. The time allocated could be used for one piece of work or for numerous quick sketches from different angles.
Workshop in watercolour with Bridget Tomkins
On Tuesday 21/11/23 we hosted local artist Bridget Tompkins and enjoyed a bumper turnout at Cowbridge Hall! Bridget is a well-established local artist who specialises in both life drawing and watercolour painting, embracing a variety of subjects. She runs classes in the St. Albans area. Bridget is known for her trademark loose and energetic style, using bold washes of intense colour which are often splashed across the paper. These random effects then become an essential part of the composition. Bridget strongly believes in trying to capture the 'essence’ of the subject or scene rather than concentrating on exact detail. This method is used to convey freshness and light by leaving plenty of areas unpainted.
Demonstration in watercolours by Alex Hillkurtz
Alex Hillkurtz was born in England and grew up in California where he is a renowned storyboard artist for feature films, television, and commercials. He currently lives in Paris and enjoys discovering the hidden corners of the city. He uses the language of cinema to inform his images, moving beyond what one sees, and depicting what he wants others to see. He had brought along various sketchbooks and paintings to illustrate his style. Alex runs plein air workshops at beautiful locations in Europe and around the world and has recently published a book on his approach to painting architecture. For this demonstration he has chosen a photograph of a favourite corner in Paris which features a café with a bright red awning – one of his favourite motifs. The photo was taken at mid-morning with some dramatic shadows.
Expanded weaving session
Experimenting with mixed media
Elizabeth Murton is an award winning multi-media textile artist. She works in a creative and dynamic way – researching, drawing, crafting materials, talking with project partners and engaging people through events. She has a studio in Digswell and offers tutorials in various techniques on the internet. Elizabeth opened the session with a very interesting introduction to her work and practice – one intriguing example involved a huge warp weighted loom set up with fibres anchored with stones (ancient technology = contemporary sculpture).
Many of Elizabeth’s projects involve unorthodox weaving techniques and materials but this workshop focussed on teaching the basics. Members had brought a variety of frames and materials (yarns, textiles, paper) and Elizabeth had brought along resources to get everyone started on a simple piece of weaving.
Hertford Art Society 25th Members’ Show
Cowbridge Hall, Cowbridge, Hertford SG14 1PG
These are just a few of the comments made by visitors during the course of this year’s Members’ Show in Cowbridge Hall, a light and airy venue which shows work at its best. All Members are invited to contribute to this Show and this year 56 artists exhibited 197 works. There were atmospheric landscapes, townscapes and seascapes; lots of boats; still life images (one of two fried eggs!), delicate flower paintings and bold leaf prints; engaging portraits and figures; abstracts, and a lovely variety of animals (including a sleepy Alsatian, a curious chimp, two portraits of fluffy tabby cats, mother and baby elephants, a herd of sheep and lots of foxes this year). Some works were colourful and bold, others subtle and elusive in a wide variety of mediums. There was 3D work in ceramic and a display of carved translucent alabaster shapes in the form of a calm Japanese garden.
A childrens’ quiz kept children (and their parents) engaged as they explored the hall for solutions. Vibrant greetings cards were also for sale.
Grateful thanks go to all the Members who worked hard to set up this 3 day show. It was a great success – over 160 votes were cast for the Visitors’ Choice prize. There was something for everyone and the opportunity to relax with coffee, tea and homemade cake while admiring the artwork was appreciated by many.
Marie Goldsmith Award for a Member with a high standard of work who has served the Art Society well without formal recognition
Stephen Lowe Award for most intriguing work
Visitors’ Choice Award
Enid Fairhead Award for best work chosen by Members
Painting the Mayor
Each Autumn we are delighted to welcome the Mayor of Hertford for a portrait workshop. This year’s Mayor is Councillor Vicky Smith and she was an excellent model for our painting workshop. Members often try to complete these portraits in their studios and are invited to display these at Hertford Castle at the later date.
The photos below show the work in progress, in various mediums. The Mayor was warmly thanked for coming along for this portrait evening.
Atmospheric Yorkshire Scene
Workshop with Mike Rollins
Mike Rollins is a professional award winning artist, demonstrator and tutor based in Hertfordshire. His style of painting is a mixture of traditional and expressive techniques and though he uses a variety of mediums, he often finds acrylic paint better suits his needs. He trained as a scenic designer and often thinks of his subjects as though they were stage sets, open to rearrangement for dramatic purposes.
Mindfulness with Clay
Workshop with Sarah Core
Sarah is an award winning ceramic artist who focuses on the physical and mindful process of working with clay. She works in community settings and runs Mindfulness and Well-being, Relax & Recharge and Pottery Wheel Experiences classes from her studio in Elstree and online.
Sarah welcomes us and gives each of us a slab of clay (about 1kg). We are asked to split this into half, put this to one side and then form 4 pieces of clay from the balance, one the size of lemon and three the size of walnuts. We put all these aside in easy reach and the session begins with meditation. We sit tall with feet flat on the floor, breathing slowly in through the nose and out through the mouth, focusing on the breath initially and relaxing, eyes closed. A calm atmosphere allows us to then take our focus though the body, beginning at the feet and working slowly through the body with the breath until our focus is on the head. With eyes still closed we reach for the large piece of clay feeling and responding to the cool texture with each relaxing breath. We allow our fingers to explore the lumps and bumps and begin to model the clay slowly into an abstract form with enjoyable nooks and crannies, our fingers and minds deciding on the shape. Then we open our eyes. The range of work produced was amazing. This was a very relaxing start to the evening.
Collage Workshop - Animals
Led by Sally Hunter
This workshop was led by Sally Hunter, a Member who has developed her own style of collage using photographs of animals and pets as a starting point. Her work has energy and personality; she often tailors the image to suit the pet’s owner. One portrait had elements of buildings and structures hidden in the form of the charming dog whose owner was an architect. Sally also enjoys creating portraits of people and landscapes in collage.
Members were asked to bring a chosen image and Sally kindly supplied paper, gluesticks, pencils, scissors and a stack of magazines.
Demonstration – Head in Clay - Cast of finished Head
By Ben Twiston-Davies
The material is Crystacal Lamina, to which Ben added a little bit of Jesmonite brand Terracotta pigment.
Demonstration – Head in Clay
By Ben Twiston-Davies
Ben Twiston-Davies has been a figurative sculptor since 2000. He has been a Visit-ing Lecturer in sculpture and drawing at the University of Hertfordshire, since 2014. His statue of Ebenezer Howard, the founder of the Garden City movement, was in-stalled in the centre of Welwyn Garden City in April 2021 to celebrate the city’s cen-tenary. Ben has recently completed a statue of Agatha Christie for her hometown Wallingford, in Oxfordshire.
Ben has visited the Society previously to demonstrate his approach to sculpture, to critique Members’ work and as a 3D judge. He was warmly welcomed back.
Hertford Art Society Summer Programme Weekend Away – Broadstairs, Kent
23rd – 25th June 2023
This year a small group met up in Broadstairs. The weather was stunning and we had perfect conditions for creating art en plein air. Highlights of the weekend included two very enjoyable sessions at The Chapel Bar & Bookshop, live music in the pub and bandstand, and a picnic on the beach. On our final day, we visited Turner Contemporary in Margate and had a dip with Anthony Gormley.
Recent Summer Programmes have included a weekend trip and these have proved very popular. Broadstairs had a stunning beach and some very interesting architecture which gave plenty of opportunities for sketching and painting, as well as varied enjoyable social events. A “fabulous” weekend was the verdict.
Winter Programme 2023 - 2024
The Winter Programme 2023-2024 begins on Tuesday 5th September 2023.
These sessions are on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm to 9.30pm at Cowbridge Hall, Cowbridge, Hertford SG14 1PG. Approximately half the evenings in the Winter Programme are for Members to paint or draw with tutor-led workshops, from still life arrangements, or with a life model. The remaining evenings are taken up with talks, critiques of paintings brought along by Members or demonstrations from a professional artist. Visitors are welcome to enjoy the non-practical evenings (marked with an asterisk).
Saturday Life Workshops will recommence on 30th September 2023 and non-Members are welcome - see details on Life Workshops below. The Members’ Show will be held from Friday 27th to Sunday 29st October 2023.
Saturday Life Workshops
WHY LIFE DRAWING AND PAINTING? – Some may say it is old fashioned, but practising Life Drawing enhances observation and accuracy. Interpreting the shape of the human body trains the artist to see almost every curve line and subtle undulation found in nature. The satisfaction of producing an acceptable image can be quite intense. It does not happen immediately and demands a great deal of practice to achieve.
Hertford Art Society runs Life Workshops in Cowbridge Halls, Hertford, SG14 1PG on the last Saturday of 9 months during the year. The only exception is the October Session which is sometimes changed when it coincides with the Members’ Show. Although these are primarily run for Members we welcome enthusiastic visitors at £17.00 per session, this includes coffee, tea and biscuits, available all day. The sessions are untutored and last from 10.00am – 4.00pm with a break for lunch. We work in in all mediums including prep work for sculpture. Bring whatever medium and equipment you require with you. The photographs below illustrate the exciting variety of work produced by the artists.
There are many different approaches to life drawing which become very obvious during the sessions. We are a very enthusiastic group of artists and in a relaxed atmosphere we learn from each other different skills and methods of working, as well as experimenting with different mediums etc. We do not have a set programme of poses, but usually include short poses and longer poses for artists who wish to produce a more finished piece of work. So why not join us if you haven’t already?
Workshops take place on the last Saturday of the month (except for October) for nine months of the year. They do not take place in April, August and December due to the annual Open Exhibition and holiday periods.
Life Models Workshops within HAS Winter Programme for 2023 - 2024 - 10am - 4pm at Cowbridge Halls, Hertford, SG14 1PG
If you are interested please contact [email protected] for further details.
Painting and drawing
In the West Garden of Hatfield House
At the kind invitation of Lord and Lady Salisbury a limited number of Hertford Art Society Members had the opportunity to spend an evening in the West Gardens of Hatfield House as part our Summer Programme.
The spectacular house, steeped in over 400 years of history, has extensive gardens that offer 40 acres of tranquillity. Built by Robert Cecil, in the grounds where Queen Elizabeth I spent much of her childhood, Hatfield House is home to centuries of historical treasures collected by the Cecil family.
Hertford Art Society 70th Open Exhibition
April 29th – May 6th 2023
This year’s Exhibition celebrated 70 years of such shows, at different locations around Hertford as the Society changed venues for meetings and Exhibitions. See Trevor Chamberlain’s article below for his recollections of Exhibitions past.
Each year the style of the Exhibition varies. The selection of work is made by a panel of practising artists who are completely independent of the Society. This year we were delighted to welcome Olivia Bishop, Jude O’Sullivan and Mike Todd as judges for both the 2D work and 3D items. The wide variety of work submitted each year and the range of expertise and opinion of the judges ensures that each show has a unique mix of artworks. 110 artists submitted 435 items for consideration this year. 316 2D works were selected for hanging and these, together with 20 sculptures and 3D items, provided visitors with a varied, colourful and stimulating Open Exhibition at Cowbridge Halls. The work of 104 artists in total was displayed. This included work by 57 Hertford Art Society Members. There were many new exhibitors this year and the Society thanks all the artists whose contributions combine to make our Exhibitions so exciting.
The exhibits included oils, acrylics and watercolours; etchings, lino and screen prints; digital images; pastel, pencil, charcoal and ink; collage and 3D works in a stunning variety of materials. There was something for everyone: townscapes and seascapes, atmospheric landscapes, abstracts, figures with stories to tell, still life images (lots of lemons, flowers and jugs), birds and various animals including some very dramatic zebras and elephants. This year’s show included a great many beautifully executed and very moving portraits. Some works were bold, others delicate, some rich in colour, others monochrome. Work to suit all tastes. Additional works were displayed at other venues in Hertford.
Open for 8 days the exhibition attracted many visitors from a wide area. Hundreds of visitors cast their votes for their favourite exhibit - the winner was Love by Helen Tansley.
This Exhibition, the 70th Annual Open, was very well received and thanks go to all the people who contributed their time and effort in making it such a success.
The exhibition takes place at Cowbridge Halls, Cowbridge, Hertford SG14 1PG and runs from Saturday 29th April to Saturday 6th May 2023 and these are the Prizewinners
70th Open Exhibition
Reflections and recollections by Trevor Chamberlain
This year (2023) we are celebrating 70 years of activities since the Society was formed in 1953, and as I am the longest serving Member, I have been asked to recall and record some past artistic activities and events since inauguration.
I was not one of the twenty or so people involved with the newly formed Society as I was serving 2 years National Service, but I can recall visiting that first Exhibition and Sale at the Durrant Hall which was located by the weir in Old Cross, Hertford. The Exhibition was held in aid of the Lord Mayor of London’s Flood and Tempest Fund and 113 exhibits by Hertford Art Society Members together with invited works by notable established contemporary artists of the day including Henry Moore, Frank Brangwyn, Adrian Heath, Terry Frost, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Rodrigo Moynihan and Victor Pasmore resulting in a very successful show. At the time I remember thinking that I would like to become involved in such an impressive society, so in 1954 I submitted an Oil “Lago Di Como” which was included in the exhibits on show at the Corn Exchange that year.
It wasn’t until August 1955, when I was eventually discharged from the Army that I was able to become an active member of Hertford Art Society. By then the Society had become established with the Rt. Hon. Marquess of Salisbury as President and Henry Moore and Ashley Havinden as Vice-Presidents. The tradition of inviting celebrated painters and sculptors of the day continued for some years and included such artists as Sir Alfred Munnings, John Nash, Ronald Maddox and Mark Gertler (1902-1939). This Gertler oil was a large painting of a voluptuous nude but the owner did not have any title for inclusion in the 1963 catalogue. So prompted by myself and my wife, Elaine, the HAS Committee gave it the title of “Queen of Sheba”. The painting was then sold from our exhibition to the Tate Gallery for £250. It is now on show from time to time at the Tate bearing the title we gave it and could now be worth something approaching £100,000.
For our 40th Exhibition Alan Davie lent one of his paintings “HOPI STUDIES No. 7.1990 OPUS G 2119”. As was usual Henry Moore lent a work each year for our annual exhibitions which were held at the Corn Exchange until about 1980. Then after four years exhibiting at the Museum Annexe (until 1984) we returned back to the Corn Exchange until 2006.
Soon after inauguration in the mid-fifties the Society met weekly on Tuesday evenings for practical painting sessions and talks in the Priory Rooms (adjoining the Friends Meeting House) which we eventually outgrew and moved on to the Museum Annexe. After a year or two there we moved yet again to the refurbished Corn Exchange. In about 2007 the Cowbridge Halls became available to us for all our painting and exhibiting activities, so the only activity which is conducted away from the premises is our outdoor sketching programme in the summer months.
The Open Annual Exhibitions and the Member’s Annual Shows are now all mounted under the one roof. Membership currently averages 120 members.
Over the years since my involvement in the Society my wife Elaine took on the role of General Secretary for a long period and then a substantial period as Exhibition Secretary. My own contribution to the functioning of the Art Society was a term as Chairman, approximately 35 years as Exhibition Coordinator and over 20 years as Summer Programme Secretary.
The Art Society would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the current Marquess of Salisbury for his continuing involvement in our Society, following in the footsteps of his father, Lord Salisbury.
I am pleased personally to have this long association with such a fine Society and appreciate and thank the Membership for elevating me this year to become Vice-President.
Trevor Chamberlain ROI RSMA
Dance and Draw Workshop
Butoh Dance demonstrated by Fabrizia Verrachia
Butoh (舞踏, Butō) is a form of Japanese dance theatre that encompasses a diverse range of activities, techniques and motivations for dance, performance, or movement. Following World War II, Butoh arose in 1959 through collaborations between its two key founders, Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno. Common features of the art form include playful and grotesque imagery, taboo topics, and extreme or absurd environments. It is traditionally performed in white body makeup with slow hyper-controlled motion.
Butoh is an attempt to uncover the dance that already exists, it must emerge from within, and not be imposed from without. Butoh uses 'reduction' to great effect, for example, stillness and slow motion are well known to audiences of Butoh.
Hertford Choral Society Easter Concert
J S Bach’s St Matthew Passion
Each year the Hertford Choral Society invites Hertford Art Society to illustrate their Easter concert with paintings to hang down the central pillars of the church in which the concert is performed – All Saints Church, Hertford. The concert is always a serious theological work, very often a Passion - the Christian term for the short final period before the death of Jesus Christ.
This year’s concert was J S Bach’s St Matthew Passion – glorious music, two orchestras, six principal soloists, 8 choir soloists and two choirs. It was a big production and met with huge acclaim.
Spring Equinox Celebration
Still Life Workshop with Flowers, leaves and buds
Members brought along some lovely spring flowers for this untutored workshop. There were tulips in a stunning white ceramic jug with soft velvety willow branches, daffodils, hyacinths and anemones in a variety of vases displayed on a bright magenta cloth (which was a gorgeous contrast) and one of softly patterned flowers.
Artists were free to sketch, draw or paint in any medium of their choice. This was a very enjoyable workshop. The artworks produced are colourful studies and just right for this time of year.
Mixed Media Workshop based on the Old Masters
Led by Marianne Dorn
Marianne Dorn is an accomplished artist and Member of Hertford Art Society. During the course of the evening we would each study three different paintings of our choice and build up a multimedia interpretation of each. Marianne had set out several examples of her own work to look at before the session started and also a sketch by Frank Auerbach.
Auerbach was inspired by the Old Masters in the National Gallery and went there on an almost daily basis to stand in front of a painting to study it and make sketches. Aspects of these sketches then informed his own paintings. A study of a portrait could influence his landscapes and vice versa. Many of Auerbach’s sketches are on display in the Espresso Bar at the British Museum.
70th Open Exhibition prizewinners, 2023.