This uplifting show, curated by Mark de Novellis and displayed in the Stables Gallery, within the beautiful grounds of Orleans House in Twickenham, runs for 2 more weeks. Art & Soul’s ‘Expressions’ is well worth a visit, showcasing a selection of around 100 artworks by independent artists, with most pieces for sale, some for as little as £20.
A number of the works are remarkably accomplished in the traditional sense, others are imbued with a naïf feel which renders them just as desirable, yet more are plucked straight from their creator’s imagination, raw, unadulterated and compelling – all are full of ‘Expressions’. This is creativity unleashed. As Pablo Picasso said “It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Much of the art on display is refreshingly free from the self-consciousness and strictures which tend to weigh down works destined for more formal galleries and art settings. All credit due to the talented individual creators, and also to the Art & Soul coordinators and volunteers as well as Julia Ruppert, an art therapist who facilitates the sessions, offering extra support where required. As Julia said: “By focussing on process rather than product, we look at removing the pressure to “make art”, encouraging the group to re-discover the stress-releasing properties of the creative process and engage in flow.”
This ethos is reflected in one of the empowering quotes on the Art & Soul website: “Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things” – Ray Bradbury.
Essentially Art & Soul seems to invite members of the group to relax, to have fun, to explore and to feel engaged. Creating something special appears to be the end result, the icing on the cake and the material for this show.
As one of the artists, also a film maker said: “Art & Soul is a great chance to connect to art and lose yourself in that space. It doesn’t matter what that space is specifically – you get to talk about and explore your creativity as well as build on your skills.” Members, who meet once a week, range in age from 20 to 80 and come from all walks of life.
Richmond Mayor Councillor Meena Bond, who officially opened the exhibition in April said: “Art & Soul’s ‘Expressions’ is incredibly inspiring, so much so in fact that I’m going to buy a piece!”
One of the most interesting narrative pieces, was the Art & Soul group work (shown in full, top), ‘The Tree of Recovery’, not for sale, a powerful graphic collaboration using collage and words.
The show is wonderfully diverse, with paintings, paper, textile hangings and 3-D objets. This year it has been dedicated to the memory of Nick Farey – a regular Art & Soul member who sadly passed away in 2013. Folk duo Franklin and multi-talented musician and artist Jun entertained guests at the busy opening which was organised and run by volunteers alongside staff from Orleans House Gallery.
With many thanks to photographer Roger Hutchins for the pictures. If you’re in the Richmond / Twickenham / Kingston area make sure you pay a visit and perhaps even invest in one of the works. You would make the artist’s day and what’s more, you might be buying a future ‘Picasso’!
Expressions runs until June 29th at the Stables, Orleans House Gallery, Riverside, Twickenham, TW1 3DJ. Opening hours: Tuesday – Saturday 1:00 – 5:30; Sunday 2:00- 5:30. Admission is free.
Art & Soul is a member-led organisation of artists from the Richmond Borough and south west London area. Over the last 16 years, the group has promoted and celebrated mental and emotional wellbeing through its biennial exhibitions and art workshops. This vital organisation continues to thrive with funding from Richmond Borough’s Orleans House Gallery and, this year, a grant from the Time to Change campaign, run collaboratively by Rethink Mental Illness and Mind. These are both charities that The Fine Line Project has supported in the past – our first fundraiser was in fact for Richmond Mind who are actively involved with Art & Soul and had a group artwork (below) on display in the show.
Find out more about Art & Soul from their website and blog.
Text © Emma Boden for The Fine Line Project – Photography © Roger Hutchins – you’re welcome to share the content on these pages provided that you name check and link back to The Fine Line Project. Thank you!