Sunday, September 30, 2007

The Society of Wildlife Artists Exhibition

From an earlier post you will have read that one of my paintings got into this major exhibition in London. On Tuesday (Sept 25) I went with a friend, Emma, another wildlife artist. Must admit the coach is not my usual choice for travel to the capital, seen too many of them driving too fast and a little madly on the motorways for my liking. However the train fares were not in my favour on this occasion and being able to grab a ‘FunFare’ ticket with National Express meant I had a cheap return fare of just £7! Perfect for an artist on low funds.

From Victoria station we walked to the Mall Galleries, going past Buckingham Palace; where we stopped and took some ‘touristy’ pics of us outside the gates etc. Had to be done.
The Private View opened at 2pm and we were inside the doors a minute or so after that. Walking down into the gallery we soon spotted a Gary Hodges drawing of snow leopards and … yup it had already sold £16,000 or thereabouts…. Just like that! Fantastic.

We ambled round in the increasing throng of artists, buyers and anyone else with an interest in wildlife and art. I had estimated that 2½ hours to do this would be ample time to see it all and get back to the coach station for our 5 o’clock coach home. There were over 400 framed works and sculptures on show and there were a lot of lovely and interesting pieces but as in any show there were also work there you wondered just how it got past selection.

The most stunning pieces for me were a couple of sculptures by Harriet Mead, a painting by Chris Rose of wood pigeons in a field and a hog deer by Vicky White. Harriet Mead’s sculptures are made from scrap metal and recycled mechanical parts but her attention to form and anatomy is superb. The sculptures looked as good on the inside as they did on the outside with structure following bone and muscle mass. I find Chris Rose’s work inspirational… the light and colours he gets into his work is incredible. In his painting, a boring old hayroll was made beautiful to look at with the cast of light and shadow and the colours used in his reflected lighting. But maybe the real showstopper for me was the hog deer. It was photorealistic. Now I know there are people out there who will scoff at that term… but this painting went far beyond just being photographic… it was alive! I swear as I stood there gazing at it in awe I saw its sides move as it breathed!!! I almost expected that any second soon it would, in one bound, be out of the canvas and running around the gallery causing havoc. She painted it so well with light, atmosphere and life - it is a truly fabulous piece of work.

Half way through our perusal of the show there was the official opening and award giving ceremony, which I had forgotten to take into account in my timings for the day. As was all the chatting with people you meet, either for the first time or have met before, after you have been round all the works. Consequently before we knew it we were running late and had to make a quick dash back down Pall Mall and Buckingham Palace Road to the station. Just in time to miss our coach!

According to our watch we were there 1 minute to 5 and the coach wasn’t there. After trying several very unhelpful staff at the station I was eventually guided to the National Express crew office, as there was no Nat Ex information desk in the station it seems; where I was told quite rudely that I should have been there at 10 minutes to 5, that no- the coach did NOT leave early (they never do) and our watch must be different to their computer system that the coaches run like clockwork by. Hmmmm. After having to buy another two tickets for us to get home (this time at £17.50 each) I checked our watch against the ‘systems’ time… our watch was 3 minutes faster, which meant we got there at 4 minutes to 5 by their system. So where was the coach if it left dead on 5!!!! Not even exhaust fumes were in the air when we got there. Not amused! To make the sting worse, the coach we came home on left 10 minutes late (as had the coach we came up on) with people getting on right up to that departure. And then for more salt in the wound, on the way home we got snarled up in not only rush hour traffic, but rush hour traffic snarled up and brought to a standstill by first an accident and then roadworks.

It’s got to be the train next time…. even if it costs more!

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