As I sit in the café of The Waterside Arts Centre I am chilled slightly. It’s a strange sensation, are the goosebumps on my arm from the gentle air-con breeze, full of freezer like charm or are they from the gaze of a beautifully penned portrait of J P Joule and his majestic corvid friend. They could have been stirred by the haunting image ‘The Light Beyond’ or even by the familiar yet surreal painted images of snow covered Bridgewater bridges. These art pieces could very well be influencing my feelings for I am sat in the midst of a stunning multi-media representation of the town I love and have chosen to call home…Sale.
The Made For Sale exhibit currently showing at The Waterside Arts Centre carries with it both a touching homage from artist to hometown but also an insight for non-locals into what we love about Sale. It gives a glimpse into its local history whilst still allowing a futuristic concept to overlay Sale’s rich past.
Curated and presented by the Sale Arts Trail team this exhibit is part of the #artisttakeover event, on until 5th August. It shows pieces submitted by over 30 artists across various media including oils and photography as well as the more unusual biro, compost and temperature sensing textile.
As I wander round the exhibit the first piece to catch my eye is the effervescent acrylic and thread on canvas piece by Sam Owen Hull. The untitled piece, pictured below, is full of ‘gestural painterly marks contrast[ing] with the slow precision of embroidered lines […] made in response to […] different parts of Sale.’ It creates a vibrant image that I kept coming back to, almost a palate cleanser…perhaps an artistic sorbet amongst the other riches of the show. I was particularly drawn to the dichotomous relationship between the bright colours (somewhat dulled in this image) and the grey tones, challenging the viewer to really think about what they consider to be beautiful. I loved it and would most definitely hang it on my wall.
The next piece to draw me in, so deeply I nearly bumped my nose on the glass, was Frith Overy-Ellis’s ‘The Light Beyond’, pictured below. I struggle to find the words to describe the emotional and thoughtful levels this image stirs in me. At first glance it is a beautifully composed photograph of some old gravestones in Brooklands Cemetery, one lit and the others in shadow. As you consider it for longer you begin to notice the light more, how it hits just one of the monuments, the grandest standing the most upright. Questions rise in my mind. Was this person worthy of this light? Does the shadow plunging the others into darkness begin to wipe their memory from our eyes? Is this an indirect marker of the society at the time? Then your eyes move to the buttercups pushing up through the long grass, a sunny contrast to the perhaps slightly macabre subject. As these subtle inclusions present themselves they begin to take on their own meanings and interpretations. Every time I look at this image, and I look at it a lot because I love it so much, I see new things and take away new learnings about my memory of the long gone, my own mortality and its worth. Deep I know but this image stirs my soul. Frith has even managed to capture a little ‘F’ in the clouds against the blue sky, I like to think this signals her hope in life and the world’s blue skies.
There are so many good pieces in the Made For Sale show, another favourite of mine is more a mini collection of pieces ‘4 Sale Paintings For Sale’ by Sophie Nixon – Oil on board. Oil paint has always been one of my most loved mediums. I rarely find an oil painting I dislike. The craftsmanship and technical ability required is often delightfully hidden in the abstract form oils often take. Sophie’s paintings are no exception. I am continually drawn to her work at any Sale Arts Trail event and will own one eventually…I WILL! Sophie see beauty in the everyday which is one of the things I love about her work and her use of light regularly reminds me of Edward Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’. I particularly like her twilight townscapes depicting drizzly weather. The inclusion of light in these is so warm and atmospheric it makes me think of Christmas shopping in the winter, warm and fuzzy yet cold and damp at the same time. The four paintings Sophie has showing here at The Waterside are stunningly simple yet instantly recognisable as Sale. Three canal bridges and the town hall, any resident would immediately feel at home and any tourist would know why they needed to come here. Like me, Sophie chose to live and work in Sale having found it ‘a very friendly and welcoming place’ and again like me she has also found joy in the hidden gems of the town such as the ‘Victorian villas and deco dancehalls’.
Special mention should also be made for The Ambiguous Brush, Jen Orpin, Lucy Elizabeth, Matt Pickles, Tracey Cartledge, Liz Ackerley and John Dempsey all of who’s pieces I also fell in love with. I wish I could buy everything to create my own Made For Sale exhibit but alas…I am not that rich. I shall instead just come and enjoy the art in its current home at The Waterside Arts Centre, I recommend you do too before it’s too late. You’ll be sad if you miss out.
Made For Sale, The Waterside Arts Centre, Sale, July 8th – August 5th, free entry. All quotes taken from the artists’ own ‘love letters to sale’.