Afternoon, Cala Molto, Patsy McArthur

Sarah Wiseman Gallery in Summertown is not only reopening once again on Saturday, but boasts a new summer exhibition ‘Pool Party’ featuring a whole host of famous artists.

From Daniel Ablitt, Bonnie and Clyde (aka Steph Burnley) and Henrietta Dubrey to Dan Parry-Jones, Anna Marrow, Patsy McArthur and Claire Nichols, the show aims to celebrate summer both in and out of lockdown.

Henrietta Dubrey


“We first began thinking about this exhibition towards the end of last year, before anyone had heard talk of a pandemic!” says gallery director Sarah Wiseman. 

“Initially, my idea was a simple celebration of summer with endless days relaxing by the pool. The show has since taken on a nostalgic feel, as the artists created most of the works during lock-down.

“It feels like we have created an indoor holiday escape in the city. The art works are filled with strong clean light, sparkling water, wild and urban backdrops featuring swimmers at play, posing by the pool or in quiet contemplation.’

The exhibition features new ceramic works by Oxfordshire-based artist Clare Nicholls. Many regular visitors will know from her beautiful snow-people she creates for the gallery each Christmas. “Clare’s works have been incredibly popular, so we’re delighted now she’s expanding into a summer collection too,” says Sarah. 

Clare, who works in a studio near Banbury says: “I decided to work on postcard – style tiles for the ‘Pool Party’ exhibition. Using my usual illustrative style of painting on clay surfaces to I’ve portrayed a retro feel to summer-time fun.

“It was a little strange, as we are all feeling bereft of our summer holiday travel at this time, but hopefully I have captured something of the joy and freedom that sun, water and getting together can bring.’” 

Clare Nicholls’ postcard ceramics

Larger scale paintings from the acclaimed artist Henrietta Dubrey also feature. Henrietta’s work oscillates between abstract and figurative paintings as she investigates a range of themes. Her bold use of line and colour to communicate space and physical connection have long captivated collectors of her work. 

Henrietta says: “With so much to inspire my own paintings, I drew on my recent discovery and love of outdoor Lido swimming, which reminded me of swimming in friends’ outdoor pools in my youth. The sense of freedom, the noise the water makes as you glide through it. I started to visualise idyllic pools and situations, blue skies, naked bathing, country and urban swimming pools.”

Dan Parry Jones has been drawn to urban swimming pools, especially those he found whilst on a trip to California. “Pools have been a major theme for me for the last two years so it was a perfect title to work with,” he says.

Dan Parry-Jones

“As an aesthetic device I use man-made swimming pools to explore the relationship between organic nature and structured, artificial forms in landscape.”

Daniel Ablitt best known for his dream-like landscapes has turned his attention to remote, wild pools, inspired by his travels around the world.

While travelling in Yosemite, he remembers one particular thrilling wild swim: “After a day’s hike we stopped by a mountain lake and went in for a swim.

Daniel Ablitt

“The sensation of swimming out over what seemed like a bit of a shelf with an unknown depth of water beneath us was breathtaking. As was the icy cold water!”

Sarah Wiseman Gallery will also introduce the work of artist Anna Marrow, who makes striking silk-screen prints inspired by swimmers and pools; 

Anna says: “I draw a lot of a swimmers and divers. For me it’s the closest we humans get to flying which is what appeals to me. They represent freedom, bravery and ambition.  I also love a vintage swimming hat!” 

Anna Marrow

Also tapping into the coastal-vintage vibes is artist Bonnie and Clyde. Steph Burnely, the creative spark behind the name, says her work ‘takes the form of limited edition screen-prints, mixed media originals on paper, wood and canvas as well as 3D pieces and diamond dust.

She says: “I find pools very magnetic and hypnotic – the water and light on the water are so beautiful – the reflection and colours when the light hits the water or at night time when the water is lit up feels magical and very spiritual to me.” 

Bonnie and Clyde

Brighton-based Patsy McArthur (see main pic) will present a collection of hyper-real swimmers, painted in oil and water-colour. Her use of saturated colour and off-kilter, floating composition immerses the viewer in a watery world, capturing the image distortion and scattered sound we experience while swimming under the surface.  

Pool Party will be a fun, vibrant and exciting exhibition, featuring some of the UK’s most exciting artistic talents. 

Pool Party, Sarah Wiseman Gallery runs from July 4 – August 1.

For more information go to www.wisegal.com

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