FPS in 2007-8 by Penelope MacEwen

Works by Gerry Brookes [top to bottom] Flood, Bay [detail], Elements Water, Falls.

‘Free Painters and Sculptors’ was set up with a view to educating the British public in the visual arts and allowing artists freedom of expression. Too often have artists been constricted to either following a certain genre that has been done before, without recourse to their own creative inspiration. Equally many have tried to shock for the sake of shocking those who otherwise would seem immune to art altogether, in order to grab the headlines and some big money….How much therefore should we value a society that allows a plurality of styles and approaches!
‘Water’ was the subject matter for two exhibitions in 2007 : one at Lauderdale House, Highgate North London, and one at Foyles Gallery, Central London. This theme succeeded in bringing out multiple interpretations of the theme.

The Lauderdale House exhibition, set in the beautiful grounds of Waterlow Park, was an elegant setting for a private view infused with the wide variety of artists’ submissions and the atmospheric melodies of Ian Brown, a well respected professional pianist who agreed to play for us on the antique grand piano in the upper gallery. There was also a spread of wine and nibbles to celebrate the occasion.

For me some of the work most worth noting came from a newcomer to ‘Free Painters and Sculptors’. Gerry Brookes produced radiantly magical works that literally glowed. Her exquisite semi abstract works, were overlaid with collage and used a range of opaque and transparent colour that provided a feast of tactile elements to entice the viewer into the very private worlds of her interpretation of ‘Water’. They were also immaculately framed and presented and showed off the society’s talent at its best.

These elegant grounds and the architectural beauty of this Highgate venue was quite strikingly contrasted by the December exhibition at Foyles. Here the starkly white walls showed off artists’ work to great advantage. Elizabeth Sinclair Keith Stanfield and Vivien Lodge all sold work here and there were many favourable comments made by staff and viewers alike. Another new comer to the society: Andrew Insh showed off an atmospheric pointillist piece, whose dreamlike quality pervaded the entire space.

Again the private view was made into a memorable occasion by Grace Kimble and Owen Legg who raised money for the AGBI by selling tickets, one of Grace’s own watercolours being kindly donated as the prize. This idea for raising money along with Owen’s sponsored walks, we should definitely pursue again in future. It is important that we retain a vision of how the visual arts can actually positively impact on others lives and also not forget those who have spent all their lives pursuing creativity.
I therefore would like to thank the society for the opportunity of allowing me to be Chairman and wish Grace Kimble future success in this role as she takes over in 2008.

Penelope MacEwen


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