hawwa | 18:42 | | |

The event was situated in Stockport, within an old factory and up many crooked stairs into large open rooms with creaking floorboards and a musty smell that followed you around everywhere you went; that of paint and charcoal and wet brushes: the scent of an artist’s sanctuary.
As I walked into the first display room I saw, to my surprise, very few people. A middle-aged woman sat on a chair (the artist), two other people who had obviously come to peruse the paintings and talk to the artists available, and my art teacher who had come with me. That was all. The rooms hummed with silence, broken only by the occasional crackle of paper and footsteps passing through rooms – it was the perfect place to observe artists at work and take a look at their creations.
My first stop was the large hall that fed off into studios inhabited by sinks, canvases and the artists in various stages of progress with their current projects. Lining the walls were canvases, sketches and paintings of all shapes and sizes, created using all mediums and portraying a wide variation of subjects; as I passed I saw acrylic paintings of apples, figure sketches, a block-style painting of a stop-sign, a small watercolour seascape and a mix-media cityscape. And that was only from standing in one spot. Everywhere I looked there was something different, something unique, something colourful or monotone or drawn only in pencil. 
Each studio was completely different, not only in size but in what was displayed and who it was owned by: old ladies, young women, middle-aged men, a husband and wife. The studio I enjoyed looking inside the most, and my favourite artist by far, was Joan Bradley, who worked with my favourite mediums and subjects: acrylic and watercolour depicting cityscapes, landscapes and occasionally seascapes. Her friendly demeanour automatically put me at ease where before I had been a little like a mouse tiptoeing around a cat’s house: she swept aside her open paints, deposited a collection of her finished sketchbooks on a table in front of me and encouraged me to take a look; talking all the while as she drew continuous lines covering her canvas, working from a blurry photo of a dancer mid-swing.
After spending almost half an hour looking through her sketchbooks and inwardly writing lists of how to improve my own based on hers, I finally dragged myself away and ventured into the farthest part of the display: a small and very dark back room lit only by a single lamp and a few candles. Inside, an enthusiastic artist obligingly explained his breath-taking creations of the Milky Way, each almost a whole wall wide and a good many feet high. Covered with what he told me was over thirty layers of paint of a special type (shiny and daintily dusted with glittery particles) his paintings were awe-inspiring and very intimidating – selling for ridiculous sums of money; of which I had no doubt of – his work was incredible. Finally, after a good couple of hours, I left, very sadly, for I had hardly even touched upon the great expanse of art available to see. The factory from the outside did not seem special, it did not stand out except as a result of its size: inside and out you could see signs of the building’s age seeping through the cracks in the walls: but what it held was a wealth of jewels. It was an Aladdin’s cave of art and I made the resolution there and then, staring up to the top of the building and into the sky; that I would go back one day and continue to find the art just waiting to be discovered.

1 paint strokes:

  1. Excellent job with that captivating report! It's obviously written by someone who actually understands and loves what she is talking about: the arts. I highly enjoyed your descriptions (and images) of the studios, with their display of paintings and creative "clutter." Thanks to your picturesque verbal tour, it isn't hard to imagine meeting those skilled artists and being equally captivated by the objects and scenes they bring to life on their canvases.


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