‘LIFE…Made for Art’ @ The Crocus Gallery, Lenton

For those of you who are unaware, the Crocus Gallery is a little hidden gem of a space, tucked away in the depths of the Church Square Shopping Centre in Lenton.  Some of you might recognise the area from various scenes in the film, ‘This is England,’ or perhaps you are one of the many dedicated regulars, who visit the great vegetarian/vegan café next door? 

In any case, the Crocus gallery is an entirely volunteer-run project and relies on the generosity and support of students and members of the community, to promote artists working in the region and to expose the public to local talent.  Their ambition is to invigorate the area with culture and to put the precinct on the map of ‘must-see’ locations for art.  Although their motivation is commendable, on approaching the gallery, passing the numerous boarded-up shop fronts and realising the desolation of the area, one cannot help but think that their enterprise is rather optimistic.  Nevertheless, the gallery persists, and determinedly endeavours to host fresh and exciting shows; and their most recent is no exception.

LIFE…Made for Art is an exhibition by the Crocus Gallery’s new curator, Rachel Tait, a second year Art History student from the University of Nottingham.  The exhibition was initially driven by Rachel’s desire to provide fellow students, who were enrolled on Fine Art subsidiary modules, with an opportunity to exhibit work produced during these sessions.  However, as the show evolved, subsequent submissions also included pieces retrieved from past A- level folders and personal art projects, and also work by a Nottingham Trent , Fine Art student; all of which responded to the theme of ‘Life.’

As to be expected from such a vast concept, the resulting collection, reflects an array of artistic interpretation and showcases a range of subject matter, in a variety of mediums; including sensitively composed, charcoal life-drawings, gestural sketches in ink, photo-realist and expressive portraits, and a landscape, which has attracted interest from potential buyers.

Interestingly, the exhibition has not prioritised final pieces; instead, favouring to incorporate the entire creative process.  The inclusion of Celeste Weatherhead’s working sketchbook provides a rare opportunity to see initial, preparatory sketches and observations, which expose the viewer to the visual and artistic developments of image making, which are ordinarily kept hidden from sight.  The inclusion of delicate sketches and sensitive drawings, provide a dynamic to the exhibition, which offset the paintings on show.  Similarly the combination of monochromes juxtaposed with colour works, has created a diverse and stimulating collection of pictures, each maintaining their own relevance and position within the context of the gallery space.

The display of the artworks is relatively unconventional, some mounted on canvas and in frames, whereas others are pinned with blu-tack.  Although I am a little unconvinced by the latter, each hang does seem in some sense, to be a continuation of the work itself, thereby reflecting artistic process, and defining the individuality of each artist.

This is definitely an exhibition worth seeing to support local and emerging talent, but also to contribute towards the admirable aspirations of the gallery itself.  The Crocus Gallery has great potential, and their backlog of engaging and successful exhibitions, since their opening in 2010, coupled with an already busy and promising schedule for this year; proves that their benevolent efforts and determination are entirely deserving of recognition and prestige.

Charlotte Hopson

Closing- Saturday 3rd March Artists on show:  Lucie Ellis, Emma Hardiman, Rebecca Lewis, Katie Downing, Celeste Weatherhead, Ellis Sharpe, and Charlotte Keeble. 

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