Having recently discovered First & Last (a shop selling gorgeous things) I went there for the private view of Tidal Paintings by Trevor Scobie. It’s an exhibition of wonderful paintings that reveal the beauty of often overlooked subjects - strands of seaweed floating in shallow water, stones and vegetation in rock pools, fronds and pebbles on the sand. Trevor’s paintings are inspired by the marine life of Worthing beaches and the surrounding sea. He presents his subjects in exquisite detail, like an old master of Dutch still life.
Clockwise from top: Coastal Tides; Sea Cove; Morning Shore; In The Deep Blue; Coastal Waters.
After a career in design and illustration, Trevor took up painting and developed his distinctive highly-realistic technique in oils. Chatting to him during the private view, I discovered that he was originally from Brighton and now lives in Worthing so he is very familiar with the ecology of the Sussex coast. The exhibition includes some of Trevor’s more abstract pieces, where details are dissolved into the haunting underwater realms of the kelp forest off the coast. Trevor is passionate about his subject and his work will no doubt raise awareness of the importance of marine conservation as well as wowing his audience with these magnificent paintings.
Isla Willatt lives and works at Studio 21 and it was a treat for me to see her again (we both exhibited at The Skyway Gallery in Shoreham a few years ago). She paints expressive, colourful landscapes, inspired by the South Downs, in a variety of media - acrylics, watercolours, ink and charcoal.
Clockwise from top: Beyond; Petworth Folly; Lockdown Abstract; Hope; Lilies from the Bishops; studio sketchbooks.
Her style is robust and direct, she creates a sense of energy with lots of mark making and she’s been recognised by her peers for her use of colour. As well as painting landscapes, Isla has been exploring a more abstract approach: I found some bold small-scale works in her studio that she did during lockdown, which seemed to express the general angst of that time; and in the hallway, there was a larger abstract painting, full of dynamic energy, which was my personal favourite.
There were other artists sharing Isla’s exhibition space. Anna Cates, a highly-skilled wood turner, presented useful pots, bowls and candlesticks as well as purely decorative things like tiny beach huts and cute mice. Nick Wainman showed a series of pencil drawings of insects that are astonishing in their minute detail. Caroline Charlton-Hellyer had a lovely display of her studio pottery (I didn’t buy anything because all her work was brilliant and I couldn’t make up my mind). Outside in the garden, ceramic artist Bebe Bird exhibited her seahorse and bird baths, delightful creations with lots of details of natural forms that reflect her love of gardening and wildlife.
The Cicada House
Entering this venue was like walking into an installation of joyful vibes and sunshine. The walls were covered with paintings by Nick Orsborn and each one buzzed with positive energy and a sense of fun. Nick’s work is focused on the pleasures of life and he uses the luminous qualities of watercolour to great effect, with light seeming to bounce right out of the pictures. His drawing style is bold and has a delightful child-like quality that creates a sense of immediacy, as if Nick creates his images with ease and speed. There’s no room here for anything other than total optimism, it’s all a floating dream of happy human experience in exotic locations: parties in the jungle; dancing in the desert; lovers and friends enjoying life and communing with the natural world. Better than Prozac.
Another room displayed an impressive range of creations by Jan Irvine who works in a variety of different media and styles, from figurative drawings and landscapes in ink or watercolour to painted ceramic decoration. In her paintings of women in interiors, Jan’s style is fluid and elegant (one of the colour pieces reminded me of Matisse) while some of her ceramic painting is very different, with stylised animals and bold, intricate patterns.
In a quiet corner of the house, I saw some really lovely ceramics by Chris Murphy, who decorates his pots and plates with imprints of shells and organic swirls of colours in muted tones. I particularly liked two of his pots, which gave me a feeling of being underwater and surrounded by delicate fronds of seaweed. Another subtle piece that attracted me was Christine Myall’s bird-decorated pot, beautifully painted in subtle colours.
Karen Norfolk makes her Hooley Houses from driftwood, bits of old fishing nets, string and rusty metal she finds on the beach. Strung with fairy lights, these miniature scenes are quite magical. Karen also exhibited some small bronze figures, showing that she is also an accomplished sculptor working in a traditional way.
Worthing Artists Open Houses 17 June to 2 July 2023