An emphasis on the romance of the winter countryside, plays out at Sarah Wiseman Gallery’s annual Christmas exhibition this year, which features artists including Dawn Stacey, luminous glass sculpture from Royal College of Art graduate Helen Slater and delightfully eccentric ceramics by Jane Muir.
“It’s a seasonal exhibition and there is so much beauty in a winter landscape, and of course, many people enjoy bracing family walks around this time of year, so we hope our Christmas exhibition will reflect this,” says gallery director Sarah Wiseman.
There is a big range of works from smaller-scale ceramics and other crafts, to larger paintings – each artist interpreting the theme differently.
For example, Dawn Stacey’s beautiful paintings are strongly inspired by textiles, particularly tapestries and have a narrative quality, as if they’re ancient recordings or retellings of history.
Kate Evans specialises in contemporary watercolour landscapes. She uses fresh, uncontrived marks allowing the colour to pool and spread quite naturally against areas of structured detail.
In her works for the exhibition she has made rather stark paintings of birch forests using quite vibrant colour. It gives the impression of trees in dazzling snow, with every colour reflected in the sunlight.
Helen Slater takes landscape to another dimension altogether; her luminous glass sculpture is inspired by her interest in our perception of space, and playing with ideas around perspective and ‘artistic illusionary methods’.
The landscape imagery in her pieces are glimpses of outdoor spaces seemingly captured and preserved.
The Summertown gallery also features paintings by Fletcher Prentice, which are absolutely charming; tiny birds nestle in blossom and tangled grasses and flowers; he’s also made some really lovely still life, again with beautifully painted blooms. His speciality is to paint exquisite detail, but use very loose brushwork to create movement.
Clare Halifax has created a new series of silkscreen prints inspired by Oxford especially for the gallery. Clare has a very idiosyncratic drawing style –meticulous in its detail, but free flowing and expressive. She also combines this detail with areas of flat colour and pattern so the prints are quite contemporary in feel.
Other highlights include beautiful, haunting landscapes by Daniel Ablitt, who is interested in how landscape affects our emotional lives. He wants to provoke a nostalgic response in the viewer, who recognise certain landscape features from our own collective consciousness or memory; forests, lakes and mountains are of particular significance.
New works by Henrietta Dubrey, one of the UK’s foremost contemporary painting talents, also frame the walls. She tends to oscillate between figurative and abstract painting, taking inspiration from her own life, the art world itself and the worlds of fashion, femininity and culture. Her small-scale drawing series are a particular highlight.’
A craft highlight of this year’s Christmas exhibition is a new collection of work by gallery artist Janine Partington. Janine’s new works capture the atmosphere of a walk through the British countryside, delicately carved into leather panel.
“The striking mark making gives Janine’s work a clean, graphic style at the cutting edge of contemporary craft,” Sarah adds.
WINTER LIGHTS is at Sarah Wiseman Gallery, South Parade, Summertown until Dec 31.