The Henley Arts and Crafts Guild Autumn Exhibition is now open at the Old Fire Station Gallery. The exhibition displays the stunning work of 48 local artists, including over 80 paintings, and 31 sculptures. The works were selected by Katie Hallam, Head of Art for Shiplake College, who also included three Shiplake students’ artwork alongside the Guild members’.
The Henley Arts and Crafts Guild has been an integral part of the town’s creative community for 50 years, and currently holds around 200 members. The Autumn exhibition gives Guild members a treasured opportunity to share their work with the world, and perhaps even sell a piece or two! After a long and calculated hanging process, the Old Fire Station Gallery has been transformed into a haven of mixed media. The rainbow of paint, pastel and clay flows effortlessly between pieces, the gallery walls carefully coordinated to group similar colours. Diana Seidl, who headed the exhibition hanging team, expressed, “It was really difficult finding how they all fit together. Trying to get the combination just right was really hard, but I’m delighted with how it’s turned out.”
The passion that each artist has for their craft is evident in both their work and their words. Kay Singla, who was displaying three sculptures of women, shone with pride as she described what art means to her. “My work is all about peace, contentment, and joy,” she enthused. “Many people do say that, if they touch the work, they do feel well. I just love it. It takes you to a different world completely, it makes you forget your pains, your issues, your everything. And I’m blessed that I can do this; I have little skills, but it’s loved and liked by so many.” Unusually Kay encourages people to touch her pieces, one of which weighs a whopping 15kg. This, she explained, is part of the experience.
Though the experience of the artists varies (some lifelong painters, others only just learning their craft), their enthusiasm is shared, and the same amount of care has gone into each piece. Mayor Glen Lambert said, “I’ve had a really good look around and there’s some fantastic work in here. Some of the student work as well, it’s really impressive. They’re not for sale sadly, because I want one. I may have to wait until the inevitable A* has been delivered and ask for that one!” The piece that caught the Mayor’s eye was Georgia Holliday’s captivating image, as striking for its vulnerability as it’s contrasting colours.
Glen also took the opportunity to thank the team behind the exhibition. As well as recognising Katie Hallam for selecting the pieces, he added, “I’d like to thank Sarah Harris who is the Chief Exhibitions Organiser for the Guild and has worked so hard to put all this together. It’s really impressive, and a great use of this fine space we have in the town.”
Excluding the A level artwork, the pieces displayed in the exhibition are available to buy. It’s the perfect opportunity to purchase a unique Christmas present, or perhaps just a treat for yourself! The Henley Arts and Crafts Guild Autumn exhibition is open from 10am to 4pm until Tuesday 23 October, and entry is free, so there’s no reason not to go and admire the art!