Reflections: The Observant Art of Richard Bawden & Chloë Cheese

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Until 10 June 2018

Saturday 21 April - Sunday 10 June
Watts Contemporary Gallery
Free admission

Discover Affordable Art

Continuing their families' artistic traditions, painters and printmakers Richard Bawden and Chloë Cheese draw inspiration from life around them for our upcoming Watts Contemporary Gallery exhibition.

Looking, seeing, observing our surroundings: Generally, these are taken for granted; but occasionally it is worth standing back, and taking them one at a time:

Looking – a glance, the key element, a general impression. Seeing – noticing something distinctive in the scene, different light, shadows at a different time of day, a quirk or an oddity. Observing – this is where the artist's eye comes in; the ability to focus on the small details that create atmosphere, that conjure up the essence of the time and place. The skill of putting together objects and situations to create cameos of visual memories – like a mind's photograph, but only the edited highlights.

This very particular artist's eye is what makes the work of Richard Bawden and Chloe Cheese stand out. They observe the world around them, and reflect on the objects in it, and their relations to each other. Occasionally people crop up (or cats), but in the main it is an art of things. But rather than the classic “still life", their pictures are vibrant - full of movement and energy. A moment in a story, they make us smile and delight in the small, beautiful things that surround us.

Both Richard Bawden and Chloe Cheese are the children of artists – part of the extraordinary group who settled in Great Bardfield in Essex in the 1930s-50s (as well as Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious, the group included Walter Hoyle, Michael Rothenstein, Bernard Cheese and several others). Designer and artist Sheila Robinson (Chloe's mother) had been a student of Edward Bawden (Richard's father), and the parents went on to collaborate on many projects, finding each other sympathetic and supportive companions in printmaking.

As a child in Great Bardfield in the late 1950s, Chloe Cheese sat alongside her mother as she designed and drew, often in and out of the studios of the other local artists. Being the child of an artist is a double-edged sword, if you choose to follow that path also. You might be compared endlessly to your parents (though, as Richard Bawden once in his youth reminded his father Edward, “Picasso's father was an artist, too"). But, with art in the blood, you have already overcome the first hurdle of persuading parents that it's a worthwhile activity for your life. Both Richard Bawden and Chloe Cheese formalised their childhood environmental learning by studying at the Royal College of Art, and both have gone on to forge highly successful, individual careers of their own, separate from the Great Bardfield heritage.

Banner image: Richard Bawden, Fizz, Linocut

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