FRESH! Thelma Hulbert Gallery and Devon Artist Network

FRESH! brought together many of our talented artists and creatives during the summer of 2022, showing new works at the Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton from 28 May to 23 July. It proved to be an exciting showcase for a broad spectrum of original and interesting artwork in ceramic, stone, oils, mixed media, felt and glass. There was something for all art lovers, collectors, newcomers, the curious and everyone fascinated by new and exciting work.

Fresher than clotted cream, fresher than a Dartmoor breeze, fresh as a summer day is long. We showcased the outstanding talent fed by our sea, our fields, our estuaries, our rocks and hills … all our creatives fed by the very best of this most generous of counties. Devon fuels some truly inspirational painting, sculpture, pottery, glass work, textile and markmaking. Take a little trip down memory lane with us …

Martin Staniforth: My creative practice explores vitality and vulnerability. Our existence seems to depend, in part, on having an external image of confidence and certainty. Often, this is in stark contrast to the reality of our inner feelings, our weaknesses, our not knowing. My sculptures show strength and vitality yet also hint at interior vulnerabilities.

Persephone is inspired by classical traditions from ancient Greece, blended with a contemporary twist. The deep fissures allow us to connect through surface beauty to what might lie within. For Persephone, this might reflect her feelings during her annual descent into the Underworld to meet with her husband, Hades.

As a thematic sculptor, I am comfortable working with materials from classic bronze through to woven willow, aluminium mesh and 500-year-old burnt timbers, as displayed inside and outside Exeter Cathedral in 2021.

Persephone was originally created in clay, working from a Greek model, and has been cold- cast with bronze. She is supported by a cast Bathstone plinth and is available in a limited edition of 9 pieces.

Avenda Burnell Walsh: Strong Woman You, Strong Woman Me is my latest series of work, growing out of #metoo and lockdown, the faces looking out at us, the eyes talking for so many women around the world who have to be silent. I may not be able to tell their stories but I can help them ask the questions.

I am also working on a series started by my Madame de Reussée, the first of many faces which keep appearing on my reworked canvasses, asking their recycling questions of me.

In The Salon de Reussée, the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo, reworked, new work found within discards, actively mining the thrown away to discover a dialogue for our joint future. The old faces stare out from their canvas world asking past generations what they were thinking when they mined our earth for profit and gain … again and again. The same faces look forward with raised eyebrows, questions for those growing into our future, and asking how we can use art to highlight and change the course of commercialism … leading us to revel in the re-found, the reused, the rediscovered, finding value in the thrown away.

Gillian Taylor: For this exhibition, I’ve made an envelope collection and a poppy installation using two sets of love letters written during World War Two, Love Letters. Eric was an aircraft engineer and wrote to his love two or three times a week for five years. His letters were full of messages of love interspersed with news of everyday life at the time. Joe was an American GI who started writing to Peggie towards the end of the War when the couple were apart. The letters continued when Joe returned to America. 

Eric and Josie spent the rest of their lives together, but for Joe and Peggie, being in different countries was just too difficult to make things work.

I feel very privileged to own the letters which inspired me to give them a new life.

I’m interested in how we communicate, and how that has changed over the years.

The envelope collections are also inspired by my interest in insects; as a child, I was fascinated by collections of beetles in museum cases.

Bridget Arnold: Sun Printing is an old technique called Cyanotype and is a form of primitive photography pioneered by botanist Anna Atkins in the 1840s. She collected seaweed, recorded and labelled them all to make several books that are still available to see in museums around the world. 

Bridget lives next to the Granite Tramway that runs from Haytor on Dartmoor to Teigngrace, this is where she walks and destresses. Collecting plants and feathers from her walks has been the inspiration for her work.

Her other love is for the seashore as she was brought up in the South Hams spending holidays and breaks in her happy place on the beach. Seaweed and feathers have also been collected from beaches to add to her stash of glorious objects to sun print. 

Bridget’s current work is to create beautiful and functional lampshades. These bring her great pleasure, bringing the outside inside and helping people reconnect with nature in their homes. The lampshade on display in FRESH! is a Tree Fern Cyanotype. Fronds were collected from Tremenheere Sculpture Garden in Cornwall. 

Bridget holds workshops in her Studio in Bovey Tracey where you can learn how to make Cyanotypes and create your own lampshade.