Exhibitions

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Gary Cook

High Ground

20 June - 18 July 2020

The works in Gary Cook's upcoming High Ground exhibition expertly capture the soft Dorset light and its magical effects on the slopes of Hambledon Hill. He weaves an ecological theme into this haunting collection, recording the names of the hill's precious fauna within his ink, watercolour and charcoal paintings, while also incorporating a timeline of our powerful connection to the site. "The hill is intriguing, from the first flint and antler-dug earthwork markings 5,700 years ago, a millennium before Stonehenge, to the present day. I've been including sketches of found lithics and timelines in the watercolours. For example the mind-blowing thought that when the first mounds were built here the world population was just 7m. There are now 7,710m of us. Yet somehow the hill still feels remote and potent, and you can easily understand why our ancestors were drawn to this magical spot." 

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Theo Mendez (1934-97)

Paintings from the 1980's

May 2020

The Art Stable is delighted to be showing a group of ten paintings from the 1980’s by Theo Mendez.  Originally they were going to be shown in the gallery, but this is, for the moment, an online exhibition, and all the work is unframed. 

Born in London in 1934, Theo lived his whole life in that city, as an artist and teacher.  He studied at Camberwell in the 1950’s as a contemporary of Terry Frost, Howard Hodgkin, Gillian Ayres and Ewan Uglow.  His work reflects the mid twentieth century, moving from figuration to abstraction.  The group of small works in this exhibition starts with a piece from 1984 which was the year he retired from his position as head of the Textile and Design Department of Camberwell School of Art.  Mendez had been a strong and inspirational teacher and the textile course became widely acclaimed under his leadership, launching many successful careers in the UK fashion and design world, including Georgina Von Etzdorf, John Galliano, Katherine Hamnett and Vivienne Westwood. 

Theo had a passion for music, which he listened to constantly when painting -  French music, Debussy, Milhaud and Poulenc, as well as jazz and Argentine tangos: ‘sometimes the work comes directly from music, to which I listen for several hours every day, like food and drink, it is essential.  If I achieve anything at all, it has, for me, to stand lasting contemplation - mystical, intangible’.  

During his lifetime, Theo exhibited widely including at the Redfern Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Arnolfini in Bristol, the Bear Lane in Oxford and the South London Gallery.  

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Sally McLaren

The Passage of Time

28 March - 25 April 2020

Sally McLaren is a modernist in the nature of her active involvement and passive reception of the given world: not so much describing it as reporting and recording from within it. She is also modernist in another crucial way, which follows from the first.  Her attention is not solely fixed on the actualities of nature; it is preoccupied by the reality of the print or the drawing or the painting itself.  A work is not a picture of the world so much as an object in the world: an object that, like the music of which Stravinsky spoke, is the outcome of a conscious human act, an object that will bring both sensual and intellectual pleasure; a self sufficient object that will 'please us, divert us, delight us’ as much as the natural objects and energies that inspired its creation.  

Mel Gooding

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LIZ SOMERVILLE

Land of Hodd

Linocuts, woodcuts and drawings

15 February - 14 March 2020

The Land of Hodd refers to the old English word for shelter, a place of comfort and calm. The sites chosen for this exhibition are ancient places of pilgrimage, work and habitation: people have, and always will be drawn to them. They include: Hod Hill, Golden Cap, Stairhole at Lulworth, Eggardon Hill Fort, Marshwood Vale, Warbarrow Bay and Tout, Durdle Door and Chesil Beach. These places are all in Dorset, a county that is still partly fable and a place of escape.

Inspired by artists such as Edward Bawden, Rena Gardiner and Nikolai Astrup, Liz works with various forms of handcoloured relief print, sometimes using the more traditional lino but more recently, plywood and mdf board. They are mostly large; she finds it hard to work small, particularly with such monumental subjects. Also included are the drawings that inform and instruct her prints. These are either pen and ink wash or sgrafitto, a technique more like carving than drawing – she uses the same tools used for the blocks.

This exhibition will include a small selection taken from a series of 48 linocuts made for the Spirit of Discovery, a new cruise liner launched last year. They are based on four ancient routes through southern England: the Fosse Way, Icknield Way, Ridgeway and Pilgrim’s Way.

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WILLIAM WRIGHT

FROM THE STUDIO

19 October - 16 November

The idea of the artist’s studio as a private sanctuary is perhaps a romantic notion.  A place to think and contemplate, even meditate.  Through repeated routine and ritual, I strive to achieve something profound in the simplest terms.  These images of a painter’s paraphernalia whether real or imagined are all essentially about this process.  The mercurial act of making and the studio space as home to endless possibilities and encounters.


William Wright

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David Gommon (1913-87)

A Kind of Renaissance Man

7 Sept - 5 Oct 2019

Until recently, the work of the artist David Gommon (1913-1987) was relatively unknown. However, a recent and an upcoming exhibition, both at The Art Stable in Child Okeford, give the wider public a chance to discover a sensitive and clever painter whose life and works mirror the development and movements within British Art in the first half of the Twentieth Century. This fresh and exciting body of works has emerged since the death of Gommon’s widow, and the retirement of his son, Peter. The works have a Romantic sensibility to them, with echoes of Paul Nash’s late landscapes, John Craxton’s undulating hills, Graham Sutherland’s eerie Surrealism, and with some of the bright colour palette of Christopher Wood. Gommon just missed Christopher Wood in life, but struck up a friendship with David Jones, “a gentle soul” who lived in one room in a small private hotel. He brushed past Graham Sutherland and Paul Nash, too, as he became acquainted with the arts commissioner of Shell, Col. Jack Beddington, for whom Nash and Sutherland worked, Nash producing the Shell Guide to Dorset. However, Gommon felt that art and advertising didn’t mix, focusing instead on Mayfair, turning, at the age of eighteen, into the welcoming arms of Lucy Wertheim. She supported the Twenties group of artists – Cedric Morris, Christopher Wood, Alfred Wallis et al – and Gommon was given a living by her of £2 a week, “plus all the paints I needed”. By her, he had his first exhibition, at the tender age of nineteen. Another supporter was Rex Nan Kivell of the influential Redfern Gallery, who bought some of his work. Born the year before the First World War broke out, David Gommon’s early childhood would have been inflected by war, his adulthood marred by a second conflagration. Gommon’s experiences were such that he believed that his art counted for nothing in the face of the suffering he saw. Once peace broke out, Gommon turned to teaching, only slowly returning to painting during the school holidays. However, having recommenced in 1945, he continued to explore and adapt artistically throughout the rest of his life. Gommon’s writing, rediscovered recently by his son, proves him to be as enchanting a writer as he was an artist. He describes early trips to Dorset, and the memory of a hut on Chesil Beach which he shared with a friend: “of lying on my camp bed at night listening to Chekov’s ‘Uncle Vanya’. It was a windy night and the hut swayed and lurched, rose from the ground, squeaked and returned to the earth with a shudder”. Gommon travelled widely, from the Isle of Wight and Holland with two Dutch students, to the lonely glens and lochs of Scotland and the Isle of Skye. However, he seems to have returned most frequently to Dorset, staying for a summer in the Blackmore Vale, “or as its old name has it, the Vale of the White Hart”. In a glorious link to the village that is now hosting an exhibition of David Gommon’s work, he wrote about the inhabitants and the environs in his journals: “Our favourite village was Childe Okeford, just below Hambledon Hill. We would climb Hambledon Hill and having walked round its ditches, and from the very top picked out all the landmarks like Alfred’s Tower in Somerset, we would then come down to the pub, the Baker’s Arms it was called. It had a visually interesting group of regulars who played skittles, shove halfpenny or Cribbage. Some of these activities carried on until midnight, and because closing time was at ten o’clock and to avoid the village policeman on the look out for law breakers, we all climbed out of a back window into the garden found our cycles, usually pushing them until we were safely distanced ...” What a pleasure, then, to be able to see his paintings in a landscape from which his inspiration sprung. Visitors to The Art Stable only have to turn a corner to see Hambledon Hill, and may be pleased to know that the Baker’s Arms is now open until midnight…

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Peter Archer

Farewell to the Seas

8 June - 6 July 2019

It seems a nearly two decade long imaginative fascination of mine with the sea has run its course - more to the point it has been a fascination linked to my painting drive. Altogether a fruitfull relationship, giving rise to quite a few paintings and, at this point at least, to imagery that I doubt can be accessed again.

For quite long periods in the evolution of modern painting, in particular with the ascendancy of abstraction, the role of subject matter - especially that which 'looks like something' - has been downplayed. Now and for some time, attitudes to abstract values and imagery in painting have become more balanced, the necessity of an interplay between those forces and what can come out out that, widely acknowledged.

In this show there are several of the 'final' sea paintings. Whether they convey an elegiac mood I can't say - you will have to decide. Also being shown are recent paintings that have followed on and can be described as 'back to the land', but the land as it is now, with the sound of a busy road never too far away.

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Michael Williams

Folds of Landscape

27 April - 18 May, 2019

It’s almost exactly three years since I last exhibited at The Art Stable and the essential ambitions have not changed. I still paint landscapes and still lifes; and I had the idea then that the folds of fabric on a table suggested the folds of landscape. The three “High Lake” paintings, representing Llyn-y-Fan Fach, a lake high in the Black Mountain area of Carmarthenshire, came as an alternative to painting the sea. Instead of infinite recession here was a dramatically enclosed sheet of water, obviously formed by a glacier, with an unknown and mysterious depth and a steeped sided corrie around it, with striped, almost black, bands of rock. A wild place, three miles from the nearest car carrying road. The recent still lifes have seen a shift from watercolour to acrylic paint. The striations or ‘filaments of light’ are even more important, I think, in that they run through opaque colour: thin but often brilliant opaque colour so that the exchange between translucence and opacity is always taking place. And the very thin, often interrupted or embedded lines are now closer together so that a surface of folding fabric or intensely coloured wall has a kind of vibration or trembling running through it. These are paintings but they have some of the characteristics of a drawing or woven cloth. The drawings are both working drawings, working out which way the lines should go, and expressive images. There might be more trembling than in the paintings.

Michael Williams, March, 2019

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George Young

Women + Men

16 March - 6 April 2019

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Christopher Riisager

Recent Paintings

9 February - 2 March 2019

To see more work

Christopher Riisager has spent almost all his life on the Dorset/Wiltshire border aside from the years spent studying Fine Art at Goldsmiths during the 1980’s. He has a profound knowledge of, and relationship with, that landscape, developed through long, silent study. And yet, he finds that the most emotive landscapes are often those which reveal themselves in a moment of travel, or contemplation, where a movement of light or shadow can lead to a rediscovery of somewhere familiar.

The paintings in this exhibition were nearly all begun outside during the long, hot summer of 2018 and finished in the studio. They include paintings of Dorset and Wiltshire, inland around Melbury Down and Hambledon Hill, and coastal landscapes from Abbotsbury to Studland.