“Story Time” at the Supreme Court, London

Sculptures and paintings by young offenders

With thanks to  Katie King of Legal Cheek November 2017

In Westminster there’s currently an art exhibition featuring the work of young offenders under the age of 18.

The small display, which is run by prison arts charity the Koestler Trust and Victim Support, is called ‘STORY TIME’, and focuses on how stories can be told through art and design.


The whole project fits into a glass display box positioned at the entrance to the Supreme Court’s café, except for one piece, a tower clock made out of matchsticks by prisoners in HMP Grendon, which is inside the café itself.


All the art is anonymous, and visitors are invited to guess the reasons behind each artwork, and also to leave comment cards for the prisoner artists.

A metal warrior is a very masculine, eye-catching piece, while the metal butterfly (made by a young person in a secure children’s home) is more peaceful in appeal.

For those expecting prison-themed pieces, an acrylic painting called ‘Man in a Pad’, from HM Young Offender Institution Wetherby, depicts a young boy donning Nike trainers sitting on a bed, and ‘Outside In’ shows two sportsmen behind mesh barrier.

Behind bars...

Behind bars...

The Koestler Trust receives over 7,000 entries each year for their annual art award scheme, including art, writing and music. Art lovers can check out more pieces in the Southbank Centre, in a larger exhibition curated by Sir Antony Gormley, the man behind the Angel of the North.

‘STORY TIME’ runs until 7 December 2017 and is free to attend.

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Art Apprentice Winners' Workshop

Prizewinners of The Art Apprentice competition based In Horsham enjoyed a free workshop at Roffey Park Institute with popular local artist John Thompson  from Horsham on Wednesday 6 April.  The Horsham girls, Hannah Couchman, Emily Johnson, Emily McFarling and Lara Rodwell, had previously exhibited their work at Roffey Park in Colgate, where favourite works were voted for by visitors and staff. A panel of local artists including Claire Phillips, Rosalyn Mina, Elizabeth Sharp and Jessica Palmer also judged the works.

The teenagers, whose work was submitted via Millais School, The Art Academy and Collyers all enjoyed the day, and recognised it will help them build an art portfolio for applying to college later on.
Morag Warrack, the organiser, said, "The interactive competition was enormously popular at Roffey Park, and the standard and variety of the work and thought processes behind it were fantastic.  All the entrants really deserve to do well in the future."  John, who teaches adult workshops at Nymans Gardens, was impressed with how the winners performed on the day.  "The girls worked very quickly and efficiently, producing wonderful finished pieces in only three hours!  They've learned many skills and techniques in a short, intense space of time.  I'm very impressed with their commitment, enthusiasm and passion!"
Many thanks are due to Roffey Park Institute for hosting the event, and to Foundry Press for providing A3 prints of the winners' work.

Exhibition with Helen Bolger LandSquares and SeaSquares

These are some of the images of Helen's paintings.  She works in oils and acrylics, sometimes adding collage or oil bar or oil pastels to the pictures.  She is also a talented sculptor and has won competitions in her home city of Dublin, where her musical themed seat can be seen at Temple Bar.  She currently teaches art and stone carving at Collyers College in Horsham.

The Art Apprentice 2015

The winners of "The Art Apprentice" have just been announced.  Students from the Horsham area took part in the exhibition on the theme of "NOW!" which is being held at at Roffey Park Institute. Staff and visitors were invited to vote for their favourites., and winners were also chosen by a panel of invited artists, comprising Jessica Palmer, Claire Phillips, Rosalyn Mina, Elizabeth Sharp and John Thompson.  This is the first year of the competition, which is aimed at inspiring teenagers who would like a career in art. 

Winners are :-Hope Laker, Dean Bates, Chris Saunders, Lorna Cook, and Grace Arnold. 

Runners-up are :- Christopher Sutton, Lara Rodwell, Emily Johnson, Molly-Spikesman-Powell and Sarah Madeley.

Certificates of Merit awarded to:- Emily McFarling and Hannah Couchman.

This is a photo from the West Sussex County Times, showing Hope Laker's skillful winning entry, "Hands of the Forest", which was purchased by a visitor to the exhibition.  Also visible are Chris Saunders' photo paper weaving, "Holiday", Molly Spikesman-Powell's poetic text, "An Explosion in its Simplest Form" and Sarah Madeley's winning mixed media piece, "Flutter".

I was delighted with the variety of media and techniques used by the students, and many people commented on the high standard of the work.

Prizes include a day workshop with an experienced artist, a selection of materials kindly provided by Seawhite Ltd of Partridge Green, and an A3 print of their work, provided by Foundry Press of Horsham.

Many thanks to the students and their hardworking teachers from Collyers' College, Millais School, The Art Academy and Farlington School, and to everyone who has been involved in this exciting new project, particularly to Roffey Park for hosting us!

Sussex Life Magazine Article-Green Tree Gallery Summer Exhibition

I loved being at Borde Hill Gardens' Green Tree Gallery for the opening of the summer exhibition "At The Water's Edge".  I had the joy of chatting with Victoria Lovell, one of the enthusiastic partners, who told me the gallery opened in 2007 with the purpose of providing a space not only for the four partners to exhibit their own work but also to encourage other local artists.  Enjoying this interaction with all sorts of artistically-minded folk and keen to encourage new artists and established local figures, the gallery shows an eclectic mix of many styles of work.  Colourful paintings and prints are surrounded by jewellery, sculpture, books, ceramics, wood, cushions, scarves, embroidered gifts, glassware, and greeting cards.  Victoria said, "Working with a theme is so inspiring.  It's magic when all the random work comes together to make a coherent exhibition.  It's so exciting- and particularly thrilling to promote new artists!"

With this in mind, Victoria is planning an exhibition for young, emerging artists in the near future, with the possibility of liasing with local Ardingly College.  Does she have any advice for young artists, I asked.

DO YOUR RESEARCH.  Read the gallery website information.

FIND OUT HOW THE GALLERY LIKES TO BE APPROACHED... and do that...make that all important appointment!

DON'T SPAM your own website at them.

BE COURTEOUS and remember your all-important people skills.

Thanks, Victoria-  Good advice to us all!

Artist Interview: Claire Phillips

I was lucky enough to interview the artist, Claire Phillips, recently.  Claire's huge, touching oil portraits of inmates on Death Row which were sponsored by The Arts Council have led to critical acclaim in the USA and further afield, and her work is now held in public collections.  Her current exhibition in Sussex focuses on child labour in India.

Morag: Claire, how did you become interested in this important subject?

Claire: I so enjoyed working with Reprieve, which is a British charity providing representation for people on Death Row, that I wanted another meaningful project to work on.  I happened to see an article in the Sunday Times about BBA (Bachpan Bachao Andolan= Save Childhood).  I contacted the journalist who put me in touch with them and I was invited to stay in their homes in India.  Money from commissions following the Death Row exhibition coupled with sales of my prints meant I was able to work on the project.  It was a wonderful experience and  I was privileged to be invited on a rescue mission. Some little boys were making cheap beaded bracelets for UK high street stores.  Those boys are now safely housed in the rehabilitation centre.

Morag: That's wonderful on so many counts, and your paintings really bring the children to life.  How do you begin working such a massive scale?

Claire: I make informal sketches and take photos, and I might plan the final composition using Photoshop.  I always make at least one huge tonal drawing in charcoal, as I've learned from experience that what might work well as a small drawing won't neccessarily translate well to a huge canvas!  Once I've checked out the composition on paper, I draw straight onto the canvas in paint.

Morag: How do you manage to reconcile the diverse roles of artist, businesswoman, mother, engineer, wife, and so on?

Claire: Mike and I met when we were both engineering students at Brunel, and we started a management consultancy business 25 years ago, (phillipsconsulting.co.uk) which meant I had an extra income stream.  I completed my Fine Art Painting degree part time over five years, and that was definitely the hardest time: there was so much juggling, switching in and out of roles. The youngest of our three daughters was 10 when I graduated in 2004.  These days, I find that if I say I'm working from home, people don't take it seriously, so now I say, "I work Mondays to Thursdays."

Morag: Any plans for a new painting series?

Claire: Not at the moment.  I'm on the lookout for commissions and sponsorship!  I've agreed to decorate a papier Mache elephant for Horsham Museum though!  It's very colourful and based on the BBA philosophy that all childhoods should include happiness, freedom and education.  It's for the Horsham Trail on July 25th until the end of August.

Morag: Well, best of luck with the sponsorship and project hunt, and thanks so much for talking today.

Claire: My pleasure.

Reclaiming Childhood: Face to Face with Child Labour in India is at Roffey Park Institute in Horsham until the end of 2015.



A View from Bury

This is a page from my little sketchbook.  It's the view from the Sussex Farm Foods shop near Pulborough where I'll be hanging my paintings next month.  It's such a gorgeous sweep of the Downs, and although it was a cold January day, the colours of the hills and fields were dramatic - I loved the way the dark trees made a vertical pattern in front of the bight green and purple.  The little sketch is in watercolour, and I love the immediacy and the way the paint colour runs and blends in a way you don't neccessarily get with acrylic.  It was just a few scribbled minutes to capture the view.

This is the first stage of a much larger painting in acrylic that I'm working on from my sketch. 

New Zealand Connection

Last week I sent a painting of "Red Cows in Staffordshire" to New Zealand.  I did the initial sketches for this painting in November 2014 while I was in Dimmingsdale, acting as volunteer warden at the Youth Hostel there.  I took some photos, too.  (Though they rarely capture the magic of what I see!)

 I loved the dry stone walls which were full of gaps in them so  when the light was behind them, it almost looked like lace!

 There were lots of curious young cows in the fields.

Tree silhouettes on the skyline completed the picture.

I'm really delighted that Sue has commissioned another painting, this time of Lancashire, to add to her collection.  Watch this space!

Sketchbook Pages

While we were in Skye, I really enjoyed my little sketchbook and watercolour paints to make quick, on-the-spot notes.  The sun rising, the birds, the reflections and so on are obviously constantly moving, so the sketches have to be very quick to capture what I'm seeing.  These two sketches went in to make the Portree, Skye, 8am composition.

New Exhibition of Seascape Paintings at Roffey Park Horsham

"Sometimes a painting reminds us of where we've been happy.  Sometimes it is a glimpse of our dreams; of where we yearn to be."

I've just set up a new exhibition of "West Coast" paintings at Roffey Park,  Horsham, based on my recent travels in the UK.  It includes inspiration from perfect places, uplifting experiences and awesome artists in Scotland, Wales and England. 

Many of the paintings are based on a journey to Skye that John and I took in October.  Both my parents were Scottish, and I had wanted to go here for a long, long time. We were blessed with fantastic weather, and it felt like home.

Have a look at the paintings in my new online gallery if you can't get to Roffey Park.

Arty Shopping

I've been to Seawhite's factory shop at Partridge Green today to stock up on paints, sketchbooks, boards etc.  When I was teaching art and textiles at secondary school,  we always used to buy our sketchbooks there -as so many schools and colleges do! The staff are knowledgeable and helpful, and I was delighted to see their range of art materials has recently expanded into a second room. There is an art exhibition at the back and some interesting paintings and information about local events in the foyer. I have always found their products to be very good quality but at wholesale prices.  Has anyone else got a favourite supplier?