A unique


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Focus is in conversation with two very different artists who are holding a joint exhibition in the Waiting Room Gallery this month.   


The work of Alison Rowe and Fiona Bates will be in the Waiting Room Gallery on the Quay from 11th to the 23rd August. Free entry. All are welcome! 


Alison's print work, above, is characterisd by by an intense mixture of colour, pattern and media. Fiona's ceramics, below, have a more light-hearted, 3D, tone with a comparatively muted use of colour. The two approaches together create a striking juxtaposition.



Focus: Where does your creative side come from?


Alison: Like most artists I having been creative from childhood and always knew that art would be my vocation in life. I think I chose printed textile design because of my love of colour, textures and pattern. I have always been fascinated by textures but with a strong composition. I love the work of Peter Doig, Norman Ackroyd and John Piper. Japanese woodcuts have also been an influence in my work, plus the naivety of Alfred Wallis’s depictions of coastal scenes.


Fiona: When I was young we often visited my Gran who lived in Stoke on Trent and had worked as a painter for Aynsley for many years. Whilst there we used to go and visit the Glastone Pottery with her which was set up as a working museum.  This is where my interest in clay began and I was very fortunate to go the Art college in London to study ceramics and then later on continue my studies at Bristol UWE. I finally ended up setting up a dedicated ceramics studio in Ilfracombe eight years ago. I basically love working with clay despite of, or maybe because of, the many challenges that it presents.



Focus: Ilfracombe has a blossoming arts scene. Why has this town become the place to be for artists?


Alison: In 2016 I moved to Ilfracombe in North Devon and was so stunned by the beauty of my new surroundings I almost didn't know where to start: The beautiful little harbour, quirky Victorian houses, the cliffs, rocks and pools are a constant source of inspiration. The seasons and weather continuously shifting bring a never-ending energy and frequent change to the scenery. I have never been so inspired to create as I have here and maybe that is the reason there are so many artists living in Ilfracombe as I am sure they are all ‘fired up’ by everything they see around them.


Fiona: Ilfracombe is a wonderful place to live and work. The drama of the coast line and sea can so quickly become calm and bathed in fabulous sunset colour.  It can change from hour to hour. It is never boring. My work is completely hand built. As with many people living in a beautiful place the environment provides a great starting point for creative work.  This combined with previous exploration of folk tales, sea shanties and found objects has helped develop my work to where it is today.



Focus: The Waiting Room Gallery, once the place where passengers sat and waited for their boat to come in, is a unique exhibition space. What are you looking forward to about exhibiting there?



Alison:  I am excited by having to opportunity to exhibit in the harbour, which has been, and will be going forward, a huge source of inspiration to me. I hope the public will enjoy my take on it and feel uplifted by my bright colours and bold compositions and get a feel for life here through all the seasons. More than anything, though, I hope they feel the love I have of this place, I now call home! George the Harbour master has been very accommodating allowing us to use the ‘Waiting Room Gallery’. It is a lovely square space, which lends itself to be a gallery and hopefully a lovely additional attraction to the Pier. It is early days, but we hope that it will be made available to artists to have exhibitions there going forward, as well as being used for Harbour related things that George has going on.


Fiona: - The Waiting Room Gallery is a great space for artists. It is in a perfect location in the harbour. It is a light space and has been really improved by Alison and her husband Martin painting the walls and putting up picture rails.  We will have plenty of signage to help locals and visitors find us.


It is our hope that visitors to our show will enjoy the local references and vibrancy of the work. It would be great to think that it may inspire others to be creative.


You can see Alison and Fiona's work in the Waiting Room Gallery from 10th August. Don;t miss it!

Fiona is part of the FortyThree artisans' collective which also features in this issue.

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