It was wonderful to welcome Mary Pym and her family, along with many of her admirers and collectors, to the gallery on Friday 6th October for the opening of her solo show. This is the largest collection of Mary's work ever to be exhibited in one gallery and it is a superb body of work. Equally impressive is that her work is so well loved that almost half of the paintings had sold before the show was even hung! It is not all over, however, and there are still some excellent examples of her work for sale - do check out the "Current Exhibition" on the website or pop in.
Mary has worked incredibly long and hard to produce this collection. She told me it had taken over a year to paint and I was surprised that it had not taken a lot longer. If it was not for her dynamism and energy this show would never have been possible. Thank you!
Each canvas is a self-contained landscape that binds the natural world to man's marks upon it. Most of her paintings have a flat almost grid like structure that usually comes from the very British landscapes they depict. The slightly irregular blocking of fields takes on a cubist quality. At the same time they are flattened into a two dimensional plane, yet with the depiction of a horizon and perspective, there is simultaneously great depth. The colours like the lines are strong. They are the brilliance of corn, flax and sunset - entirely part of nature enhanced by a strong light. Natural yet vivid at the same time.
Mary was born in Holland in 1935, but has lived most of her life in the UK, particularly in Hampshire but with time in Ireland, Scotland and Devon too. Having trained at the Winchester School of Art in the 50's and then at Southampton College of Art in the 70s where she also taught, her work feels very familiar to our Hampshire eyes.
Intimate and yet with big horizons, hovering between abstract and figurative, it is easy to understand why these calming pictures are so loved by collectors of contemporary painting.
They have both a very contemporary and yet timeless quality.
Not around for long, do pop in to the gallery before the 13th October to enjoy them.
Gerald steps out of the shadows......
Welcome to the Wykeham Gallery's first blog post. We hope that you will enjoy our blog musings and find out more about what is happening here at the gallery, life in Stockbridge on the River Test and stay in touch with us and the work of our wonderful stable of artists.
We have just hung and opened an excellent exhibition featuring the work of Mary Pym - you can read and see more about Mary in our next post. This is one of the few 'solo shows' at the Wykeham and the largest collection of Mary Pym's work to be seen in one location. She has worked long and hard to produce such a broad body of work and her many followers are eagerly acquiring them! Mary has been painting and honing her style for over 50 years. I, on the other hand, have been severally employed and now I am lucky enough to be on my fourth career - a gallery owner, although I have been a life-long collector.
Some of you I know very well, however, some of you only get to Stockbridge occasionally. I have therefore decided that perhaps it was time to step out of the shadows and tell you a little more about me, the gallery and the work we choose to show.
I'd love to tell you that there was some great strategy or scholarly plan to our exhibitions, but the truth is something much more instinctive. There is that old saying - 'I know what I like' and that is very much the philosophy behind the Wykeham. I've owned and run the Gallery for 15 years, and the choice of work we hang and sell is very intuitive and very much my choice. I wouldn't sell an art work that I wouldn't give room to in my house. The good news for you is that my taste is fairly broad!
So how do I get to have such confidence in my taste and selection? Well there is no real right or wrong to collecting art; you do have to be governed by your gut feelings. There are those who buy work only for investment but that is tricky if that is your only motivation. Fortunately the gallery has a loyal following, who have bought into our artistic offering, and so we have grown together with our customers. We can't guarantee that an art work will grow in value but generally our choices have proved solid. Most of our customers have faith in their own taste as well as a trust in us to present them with an interesting and diverse range of living artists - all of a given quality and standard.
My own taste and confidence, like those of many of my customers, comes from years of buying and traveling and looking. I am a very visual person, be it taking photographs or, more recently, designing our new sculpture garden. Some might say that my taste is fairly sound until it comes to ties…
My father was a diplomat, so as a child I was dragged around the museums of the world and exposed to many diverse and exotic cultures. From the souks of Turkey to the jungle of the Congo, these were my formative experiences; a very spoiling rich cultural and visual diet.
So I plan over the coming months to share with you here on our blog some news on our latest exhibitions, thoughts on new artists we are bringing to the gallery and perhaps the odd diversion such as fishing or things Hampshire.
We'd be very happy to hear from you too, so please send us your comments either on the website, on the blog or through Facebook or Instagram.
So welcome to our first blog and thank you for your patience. We look forward to sharing more with you.
Gerald Dodson - Owner of the Wykeham Gallery