Sunday, 26 September 2021

Town proves a source of inspiration for art guild

Town proves a source of inspiration for art guild

THREE local artists have welcomed the chance to celebrate all things Henley as part of a 10-day exhibition opening tomorrow (Saturday).

Hooray Henley! is the punning title of this year’s show by the Reading Guild of Artists (RGA), which runs until Tuesday, March 28, at the Old Fire Station Gallery in Upper Market Place, just around the corner from the town hall.

The exhibition is the group’s 87th annual show, the venue for which is often the popular Henley gallery — but this year it is the town itself that has provided a key source of inspiration for members.

Although primarily Reading-based, a spokesman for the guild said it now has a growing membership from outside Reading, with many hailing from the Henley area.

These include the RGA’s president, the distinguished sculptor Clive Duncan, who was born in Henley but now lives in Station Road, Shiplake.

He said: “Henley’s unique location, its arts and literary festivals, and the major artists who have lived and worked here, have made the town a special place for exhibiting the creative arts and crafts.”

Mr Duncan’s Shiplake neighbour Sue Evans is among the locally based artists exhibiting — and is delighted by the opportunity to celebrate all things Henley.

Works of hers going into the show include the colour-splashed Henley-themed paintings Sunny Regatta Day and A Perfect Day.

She said: “Henley in the summer is an exciting place to live, with the regatta and festivals from June to September. In my imagination it is always sunny and I use strong, bold, bright colours to emphasise the holiday atmosphere of our beautiful river and town.”

Fellow Henley resident and guild member Gordona Naslas added: “I’ve lived in Henley for 35 years and get my inspiration from daily life, walking along the river and watching people.”

Belinda Fitzwilliams is another guild member who hails from Henley and relishes the artistic subject matter the life of the town provides.

She said: “I’ve attended many regattas over the years. I love observing people at the regatta in all weathers and many of my paintings drawings, watercolours, etchings and monotypes are exhibited at London and local galleries.”

The 11-day exhibition opens to the public at 10am tomorrow (Saturday). The daily opening hours — including on both Sundays — are 10am to 4pm.

The show will be formally declared open by Clive Duncan at 12.30pm on Sunday (March 19) when a private viewing is due to be held.

The guild, which was founded in 1930, today has a membership of more than 150 artists working in a diverse range of media.

This year’s exhibition promises to showcase an electic mix of work — with examples of batik, prints, woven textiles, and paint in three dimensions.

Works will be available to buy, both framed and unframed.

Mr Duncan said: “Throughout its 87-year history the guild’s role has been to encourage and foster the visual arts and to represent some of the finest work by artists in the Reading and Henley area.”

RGA chairman Anthony Wilder added: “The title Hooray Henley! is designed to encourage local people and visitors to Henley to call in and see our exhibition.

“Though mainly based in and around Reading, the RGA’s membership also includes at least seven artists living and working in Henley.

“All our members are being encouraged to enter at least one piece of work based on those things for which Henley is famous — the river and locality, well-known characters, Henley’s festivals, local history, industry or architecture.

“I would encourage people to pop in and see the width and breadth of talent on display and to hopefully buy a piece of art. We look forward to welcoming all visitors, both from Henley and further afield.”

For more information on the exhibition, including previews of some of the works going on show, visit

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