AN oil painting depicting a piece of Henley’s industrial past has won this year’s top award by the Henley Arts and Crafts Guild, writes Lesley Potter.
John Loader, 61, of Deanfield Road, was awarded the Mollie Staley Award for the best picture at the guild’s summer exhibition which has just finished at the Old Fire Station Gallery.
The painting shows the back of the former Waldens Joinery on the former Empstead Works industrial estate near The Henley College, but the rear — shown in the picture — has been demolished. John, a retired graphic designer, first painted the subject two years ago and worked from this preliminary work and photographs to produce the new work.
He said: “It was an industrial structure which I recognised wasn’t going to be there for very long and I wanted to record it for posterity. I was genuinely surprised to win. It’s only the second time I’ve exhibited with the guild so I was quite pleased.”
The painting was selected by this year’s judge, Reading-based artist Martin Andrews, who commended the use of colour and complex shadow, and the fact that the painting records an historical detail of the town. The site is one of the nine currently under consideration for redevelopment under the joint neighbourhood plan.