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Westward Ho! & Bideford Art Society
95th Annual Open Exhibition - The Burton at Bideford 2017

It is not possible to mention every work in a review, nor has it ever been done! But the standard of the exhibition has conferred on all the pieces shown an accolade of quality which is maintained year on year and the works commented on here represent only those which time and space allow.

"Butterfly Dreaming" by John Hurford

On first entering the light and calm of gallery one at the Burton you are embraced with a warm feeling of sheer quality, and the selectors, who always rise to the arduous task in striking a balanced high standard, have done Bideford proud once again. The room is not over hung and yet amply filled with a stimulating and eclectic variety to suit everyone.

We are greeted by the painterly pastels of Michael Laws with "Clovelly Harbour and Lighthouse at St. Ives", "Low Tide, Chivenor" by Peter Laws and the very graphic "Bideford Funnels" by Robert Reed. Continuing the marine theme are Ian Hudsons romping "Homeward Bound", Mark Woolacotts very calming "Tug" and Sue Mitchells beautifully rendered "Dissolution". Two delightful little abstract paintings by E.L,S. Maynard show "Southcottle and Portodowney" and one of Jenny Smys lovely group is "Pendeen". Mark Rochester delivers again with "Across to the Chains and Rachel Sumner stands out from the wall with her painted wood assemblage group including "Take Off". Mike Wollacott is in reflective mood again with his painting of "Penhill Lane" and I really like "Longing to Play Like Memphis" by Gerrard Lindley.

"Snorkel" By David Ralph Simpson abides in that hinterland between the figurative and abstract worlds and is all the more attractive for that, as is the "Drawing on obscurity" series by Peter Ward. Pine Feroda keep building on the great success they have enjoyed and "Mountain Light" does not disapoint, nor does John Hurford with another painting of sheer presence and scale which manages to remain the centre piece even when viewed through the entire length of the exhibition! Moving round the room there are four panels by the chairman hanging next to another beautifully handled still life by Carol Rhodes, "Cookers and Lillies" and beside this Bert Bruins takes us magnificently to "The Gorges du Verdon." Peter Styles "Paris Bridge" is uncluttered and Duncan Hopkins creates a wonderfuly watery corner. I particularly like "Coastline; Outcrop" also Deborah Jackson's rich and gorgeous painting of "Waggums" stood out as something special. Hester Berry was in dark but appealing mood but "Cheddar Gorge" brought the sun out which also shone on Vin Jelly with his "Strong Man" which won the coveted Ken Doughty prize. Peter Steart has returned to more modest size paintings this year, his group included the delightful "Early Autumn Thaw". There was clean, fresh air blowing through Paul Barwick's "A Wind on the Common" and a feast of beautifully seen cows, horses and country sports from Colin Allbrook, and sun and shade in "Below Black Tor". More sun shines obliquely across Stuart Williams lovely "North Devon Coastline" with a pallette reminiscent of travel poster art of the 1930's. There is warm light and texture in "Almond Grove" by Richard Meyer, damp moss and autumn colours in Robert Reed's "Outgrown Exmoor Bank" and a luxurious flow of colour in the wonderful Peacock "Serenity" by Robert Cordingly.

I always enjoy Hilary Paynters humourous and clever wood engravings and liked "The Time, The Money, The Freedom". There are flowing drawn curves in "Life Study 1" by Fiona Balfour and some good moves by Richard Young in "Presence" and Philip Barnes goes skillfully head to head with "Divine Division". There's plenty to dwell on in Andy White's "Siesta's Secrets" and there's a stunning conflict of Pheasants in Rob Walker's "Fighting Cocks". There are intimate moments in Alissa mihai's delightful group of Lino cuts with "A New Bra" and consistent quality from Judith Westcott with a lovely quartet of wood cuts which includes "Cromlech" The theme is continued with a stunning woodcut from Merlyn Chesterman "A Pewter Sea" and I always enjoy the sheer graphic power and drawing/cutting in Juliann Witts woodcuts with "The Cranes" as outstanding. I enjoyed Linda Hajdukiewicz's "The Green Path", lingered in the "Fields of Gold" by Luna North and was transported by Mary Chuggs "A Memory of Vienna" ;spent time with some cows in Pam Cox's "Meadow Grazing", was cooled in the shadows by Marianne Edwards "By Woodland Slopes" and reminded to wear my hat in the sun by Pam Gilhespy's "Girl in the Garden".

"Something to Chew On" is a delightful piece of stoneware modelling by Elaine Stiling, and the "Orange Plate", stoneware by Alice Gare caught my attention, as did a large Elm Platter by Nigel Griffin and the spalted beech wood vase "When I was a Tree" by Sandra Adams.. I also love the Coi Carp harvest jug by Nick Juniper with its rich, luxuriant decoration and Jane Yates large and colourful coil pots. There are also imposing bronzes by Chris Buck, enchanting ceramics by Jan Lye and intriguing paper mache from Roselyn Bradford.

Tony Williams