Photographer James Warman reviews the opening of the Belle Vue Arts Festival’s Local Artists' Exhibition - and finds that Shrewsbury creativity is flourishing! Pictures by James Warman Photography.
Held over three days (16 to 18 June), the Belle Vue Arts Festival Local Artists' Exhibition showcases some of the best local art around, covering a range of mediums and styles, from artists of all ages. Of particular note was the work from pupils of Coleham Primary School which included various depictions of bees and, in-keeping with this year’s festival theme of 'Journeys', decorated suitcases showing places the pupils would like to visit.
It was this range of diversity that was the first thing that struck me as I walked in. That and the quality of the art on display. Whether it’s something in the water, but Shrewsbury certainly has got more than its fair share of talented and creative people!
The whole event and the subsequent exhibition (which runs to Saturday 18 June) was organised by Belle Vue Arts Festival committee member Sue Mann (a talented artist in her own right), with the help of a range volunteers and of course the Barnabas Centre itself.
The evening started with a few words from the Festival’s Chair Corinne Brown, followed by an address from Shrewsbury’s Mayor Elisabeth Roberts. There was live music in the form of a pianist, and it seemed all the artists who had submitted work had come along as the room had a lively buzz to it (or maybe that was the Coleham Year 5 bees?!)
Also in attendance was the internationally renowned cartoonist and local lad Charlie Adlard (pictured above); Councillor Kate Halliday (Belle Vue Ward); gallery owner Jonathan Soden; but it was especially poignant that there was a Ukrainian family were also there, who had submitted work based on their journey from the Ukraine to the UK back in April. “Journeys” being this year’s festival theme.
Liudmyla, along with her son Nazar and daughter Angelina left their home in Vinnista to seek refuge in the UK. Their work (see above), which included three drawings, shows the family saying “goodbye’ to dad, their two dogs and cat to make their way to the UK. The second image shows them travelling on a camouflaged train, passing the Carpathian Mountains leaving Ukraine for safety. The third image is of them on the plane flying over London, complete with a red bus, the Houses of Parliament, and the London Eye.
It is perhaps wrong to single out one body of work amongst all those that were on show but, for me, meeting that family, which included cousin Nasty (whose English is amazing by the way), and seeing those three images, was an incredibly emotional experience and one of the highlights of the evening.
The exhibition is on until Saturday, June 18 at the Barnabas Centre and is free to enter. Check the Belle Vue Art Festival’s website for opening times as well as all the other events going on over the next few days.