We have a superb and varied line up of artists this year featuring both established and emerging artists including oils, acrylics, watercolour, print , photography, paint and textiles so there is something very different each month. Below are the artists statements in their own words.
February Howard Levitt
Howard Levitt studied art and design at Manchester in the mid 1970's and was tutored by, amongst others, graphic designer Cameron McClean, landscape artist 'Tub' Williams and children's book illustrator Tony Ross. Sing it Lofty! He graduated at Manchester Polytechnic School of Art with a BA(Hons) degree in Graphic Design specialising in illustration in the ' class of '78 ' alongside fellow students including designers Peter Saville and Malcolm Garrett, artists Peter Jones, John Thompson Steinkrauss and Gwyneth Jones and furniture designer Jonathan Field to name but a few.
He moved to London where, in collaboration with the artists agency Young Artists fronted by Alison Eldred, he produced illustrations for clients in book publishing and advertising agencies.
In the early 1980's he relocated to Cheshire and worked as an illustrator mainly for Manchester and Cheshire advertising agencies and spent time lecturing to graphic design students at the Salford College of Art. Latterly he worked for major property developers, the National Trust and English Heritage associates using his technical skills to produce highly detailed architectural perspectives, aerial views and interpretation panels.
With the decline of the use of illustration and the advent of computer generated imagery Howard turned his attention to painting and drawing for his own enjoyment and for private commissions. He now sells his originals and prints at Galleries and Exhibitions throughout Cheshire and Derbyshire and he is a member of the Peak District Artisans. Illustration briefs for retrospective styled paintings and conceptual visualisation work still appear and are always welcome .
March Elileen Turner
Eileen Turner lives in the village of Lea in Derbyshire close to the World Heritage site of the Derwent Mills. She has been painting professionally since 2000 and works mainly in watercolour.
The sequence of the seasons, light and shade and the shapes and patterns created by animal movement are very influential in her painting.
She is continually drawn to countryside activities, farm animals and wildlife. Hares are particularly close to her heart. When walking in the meadows around her home she often comes across these mystical creatures. Creating an image of their energy and alertness is one of the challenges which she enjoys most.
Eileen’s watercolours of brown hares have become very collectable over the last ten years. Much of her inspiration has come from trips to the Isle of Islay on the West Coast of Scotland in the summer.
Here Eileen paints and sketches the local brown hares in their wild environment where they are much tamer than their English cousins. She is able to stay close to them and observe their antics as they play in the fields especially in the clear light of the evening when the suns rays are low and golden.
She has loved , owned and ridden horses for most of her life and really likes to portray the character of the horse in its many forms; in sport, working on the land, country pursuits or in contemporary art work. Eileen also paints farmyard characters, cockerels, horses and hounds and often has an interesting selection of original watercolours together with Limited Edition Prints and cards.
Eileen has exhibited in UK galleries widely over the last ten years and sells her work internationally. She has an online shop and can add you to her mailing list for invitations to her exhibitions. You may see her during the summer at local agricultural shows where she sells her work from a blue marquee.
April Louise macintosh Watson
Louise MacIntosh-Watson is a Liverpool born artist now living in Derby. She worked in art education for 17 years before becoming a full time professional artist. Louise's work is easily identifiable by her vibrant use of colour. Colours are kept clean and fresh whether using the traditional medium of batik or in her acrylic on canvas paintings.
Louise is well known across the Midlands for her vibrant collection of impasto textured abstract flower meadows using acrylics, emulsion and a hint of sparkle.
May Villager Jim
Known as "the Banksy of the photography world" Villager Jim is a passionate wildlife and country lane photographer from the Peak District National Park, his work has appeared on television programmes (Springwatch, Countryfile and Alan Carr Chatty Man) and in most of the National Newspapers on a regular basis. Jim still remains totally anonymous and no one really knows his true identity, creating a mystique and a style that is all his own.
June Janice Allen
An artist and maker working in various mediums from 5’ painted canvasses, painted fused glass panels to small glass and silver jewellery pendants and earrings. All have a common theme, which is texture.
‘ Painting is very much about ME and I get a real sense of fulfillment and achievement when I paint and it allows me to express myself , I like experimenting with new products to see what it can bring to my work. For the last couple of years I have focused on glass fusing and silver jewellery design but I have picked up my brushes and knives once again and created ‘On the Top’ a series of work based on a picture of the same name I painted back in 2007. I’ve loved painting again and can’t see me stopping anytime soon I like the unpredictability with the ink flow in my paintings and how the glass powders melt whilst being fused in the kiln. I never really know what the end result will be which I find exciting as well as a challenge at the same time. Nothing is a disappointment to me as acrylics can be reworked, the underneath providing additional texture and any fired glass can be broken down and reused.
Every day is a research day to me as I can see a view whilst driving or a group of trees whilst on a walk and these could form an idea for a painting. I love textures and land formations and see potential in everything I see and touch. I am lucky to live in Derbyshire but I also travel a lot so I’m never short of inspiration. ‘
July Rebecca Moorledge
‘I studied illustration at Derby University and am inspired by children’s book illustrators especially Quentin Blake and Shirley Hughes. My paintings capture local towns, streets and people. I am particularly interested in buildings and rooftops, they are often the most beautiful part of the building but we so very rarely notice them in our busy lives especially in towns and cities. I use watercolours and ink to create my paintings and they take many hours to complete due to the detail involved in each painting.’
August Valerie Dalling
In 2003 Derbyshire Artist Valerie Dalling took the leap and embarked on three years of study at the University of Derby in order to pursue her passion for fine art photography. Since starting out on her creative path, Valerie has been inspired by many, but the landscape will always remain her biggest influence and where she feels most at home.
Valerie has been involved in numerous commissions, from arts in health and schools, as well as ongoing personal projects including the effects of coastal erosion and her latest Drive Time Journeys, as she explores the Peak District by car and camera.
She enjoys working with the community, and in 2008 founded The Image Club, launching her first monthly photo forum. From beginners to those with photographic experience, she has a particular interest in how others visually respond to the world around them, encouraging discussions on image making, through the sharing of ideas and knowledge, in relaxed and informal environments.
September Barbara Helm
‘I am a late-comer to the art world and I am still exploring all types of artistic expression. I find I am drawn to printmaking and enjoy the possibilities and often unexpected outcomes this allows. The variety and combination of techniques gives me the freedom to experiment and allows me to follow where inspiration leads.’
October Jonathon Shepherd
‘I was born in Derbyshire in 1961 and continue to live high up in Matlock Bath with glorious views over the surrounding countryside. After leaving school at 16 I served an apprenticeship as a plumber before joining my father in a picture framing business. It was during this time that my interest in painting was kindled and I taught myself to paint, initially in acrylics and watercolours but now mainly in oils. In 1991 I took over the framing business from my father and continue to run it to this day, although a lot more time is spent painting now. I have won several painting competitions including the Derbyshire Pro Loco Painting competition final which is a culmination of paintings done in various villages throughout Derbyshire which all have to be finished on the day and are then voted for by the public. After several exhibitions my work is in collections in the USA , Australia and Europe as well as the UK. I mainly paint landscapes of Derbyshire and other rural areas of the UK but of late has been experimenting with other subjects and painting styles.’
November Jenny Oldknow
"I have loved the countryside all my life, and drawing and painting it remains my passion. My studio is surrounded by stunning Derbyshire countryside which continually provides a great source inspiration for my work.
Having a firm foundation of good draughtmanship through daily sketching and drawing, and my preference to study my subjects from life and on location, means that I have developed a keen eye for detail and ensures I can confidently adopt a more spontaneous and intuitive way of working in my favoured medium of watercolour, resulting in fresh and lively paintings, full of glorious splatters, washes and wet-in-wet blends. I aim to capture the essence of the subject with a unique combination of realism and abstraction. I am constantly growing and developing as an artist, as my work evolves through daily practice and experimentation in my craft."
December Frances Daunt (Garden Gallery)
‘I live in Derbyshire and gain much of my inspiration from my many walks through the countryside. I love creating felted pictures of the birds and animals that I see.
To create a felted picture I lay out the wool and bind it together using a process known as wet felting, I then add details using tiny bits of wool which I push in with a needle (needle felting). I like to have my pictures professionally framed ready for display. I accept commissions, including felted pet portraits.’