Saturday, May 27, 2017

Hera She Is!

And Hera she is! The beautiful and visually stunning 'Bird of Hera' by Kerry Darlington! Hera is the goddess of marriage, fertility, childbirth and love and is often depicted as a peacock so the main colours in this piece are gorgeous blues, greens and purples. 

This piece is now sold out so we are down to our last one in this small edition of 195 pieces! Click the image for more details or call Diane on 01759 307652 :)

Sarah Louise Ewing - The Story So Far...

In 2011 we came across a style of work which was so very different from anything else we’d seen... The work was all original and came in the most vibrant autumnal colours with rich reds, gold and orange and with fantastic swathes of texture!

The artist was Sarah Louise Ewing, a self-styled ‘hippy artist’ living and working from a small cottage in the Cotswolds. Sarah was keen to hear what people thought of her work and customers very quickly decided that they liked it!

Sarah allowed herself to develop from almost abstract beginnings into a more definite landscape, filled with chequer board hillsides and striped valleys. Little white cottages appeared beside rows of Autumn trees and so the fantasy began…

Over time the cottages gave way to little fat round houses, reminiscent of days gone by, the hills stood tall and mystical sprites danced across the sky… 

The squat little houses grew into tall towers and it was easy to lose a little time, drifting into this land of happy imaginings…

The turrets became more fancy and their steps and battlements led to the walls of mighty fairytale castles, standing tall on a golden hillside, Kings of all they can see… 

Take a look and see which one is your favourite - if you ever need extra photos or even if you want to call and ask a question, then do... Our number is 01759 307652 or you can email us

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What to Ask Mackenzie Thorpe? An Interview by Jason Chinnian

How could I come up with a different angle to interview one of this country’s most celebrated living artists? A man who has two of his works hanging in The Queen’s private collection. Football? From what I understood, he was not a real football fan, though some of his work relates to it and many a football stadium’s boardroom displays his work including that of Barcelona FC. What about music I thought? A subject close to my heart and also to that of this famous artist from what I had been told. What could I discuss with Mackenzie Thorpe?
Fastest Car in the World by Mackenzie Thorpe at The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York

This interview was to take place at The Acorn Gallery in Pocklington, near York. John and Diane Wass, the owners, had secured a prestigious book signing by Mackenzie and his PA presented me with the opportunity to interview him. So this is why I wanted to bring a different angle to the interview and show a different side to the man and possibly his work.

So after the book signing I managed to sit down with Mackenzie to ask him what music inspires him to paint. His answer was straight, unswerving and surprisingly quick “Bryan Ferry seems to be the most effective. But there have been other artists too. But Ferry is who I listen to most. In fact I just bought one of his latest albums and a couple of the tracks drive creative energy from my brain down my arm and to my hand. I don’t know why but it just does”.

In regards to his work as a whole Mackenzie makes a broad statement; ‘Everything I do is a self-portrait. Music inspires me but is not really reflected in my work’. He goes on to explain that “elements about him, his life experiences or his personal life are expressed on canvass every time he picks up a brush or pastel”.

His first childhood works were influenced by his Roman Catholic upbringing and were pictorial representations of Christ or Bible stories. Much of this influence is still seen in his current work including the 'Apostles' sculpture which is based on the last supper. 

The Apostles Sculpture by Mackenzie Thorpe at The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York

Mackenzie elaborates on how he has taken something that is ‘familiar to him and to billions of us throughout the world and made it is his own and something more modern. The guy walking the dog is a depiction of Judas and The Devil – The Hound of Hell. The other guys are deep in conversation and others are distracted’. But the ‘key is to make it relevant to all us so we can imagine the conversations they are having will be about football, work, their wives and home lives’.

Mackenzie’s ‘Outlaw’ series of work are also the result of a major childhood influence. He recalls how ‘all the kids in the neighbourhood would have seen the latest cowboy film or episode for a TV series and then be out playing the characters. Some kids would be in one gang, some kids would play Native Americans and other kids would be in the bad gang. We would run round on a pretend horse and call round on our friends and speak as though we were an Apache or Sioux. I’d like to think that many people can relate to this’.

The Outlaws Sculpture by Mackenzie Thorpe at The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York

His Sheep works are ‘those that depict my family. They capture the moments when I step outside the scene and look in.’ He points to one of his paintings in the gallery and recalls ‘seeing his wife with his two children and the love and protection she showed and how they were reassured by this. I wanted to capture this. I see myself as the shepherd with his staff guiding and protecting my family. But I also feel a sense of pride because my family is also partly my own creation’. These works seem to work on many different levels.
Hearts of Gold by Mackenzie Thorpe at The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York

But possibly his most personal of all the styles in his repertoire are the faceless works. These seem to cut to Mackenzie as the child and even the man sitting in front of me now. He felt a ‘faceless child growing up because of his dyslexia’ and how he was treated as a result. It was not understood in the way it is today. Even the religious implications meant he was told he ‘would not go to Heaven and it was implied that God did not love him’ and so expectations were set somewhat low. Mackenzie felt he had become invisible, hence the faceless pictures, and used this as his self-expressing theme. But ‘I still believed in Love and wanted to give and receive it. This is why I try and create colourful scenes from the back streets of the areas I knew. I wanted and needed to make these places my Paradise. I suppose I used this rejection to drive me on and prove those, who had judged me, wrong’.

This is why I do so much work with under privileged young people throughout the world. Recent workshops have been in Japan and New Orleans. I want young people to make the most of their God given gifts and reach their full potential. This is what I mean by wanting them to take ‘The Leap’. ‘I want to create an environment in my workshops that allows these young people to motivate themselves to have dreams but to also make plans to achieve those dreams. In New Orleans 10-12 year old's had their work exhibited in Mackenzie’s own exhibition. He said to one of them ‘I had to wait till I was 46 to have a painting exhibited. But here you are at 12 years of age with your work on show’. Of this he says ‘it makes me feel very proud to provide these platforms for young people all over the world’

Finally getting back to music, he also seems to be influenced by other more sombre and poignant artists and songs. When I asked him if he could name a song that represented him and his work he, as possibly expected, gave me two. The first was the very melancholic ‘I Tremble For You’ by Johnny Cash. It is a simple but strange song with a, somewhat, ambiguous meaning. But it shows Johnny Cash’s style in delivering a sometimes terrifying but heartfelt message that is understood by different generations. I can see how Mackenzie presents his work in the same way. The veiled simplicity of his work coupled with the deep personal and social issues he tackles. The second was Edith Piaf’s ‘Hymn To Love’ which though still a sombre and chilling love song and, because of her delivery, very poignant. There is the message of hope and this rings true with much of Mackenzie’s work. He is, perhaps, a living testament that life’s trials and tribulations can be overcome to achieve your full potential.

I also managed to have a quick word with John and Diane Wass to thank them for staging this prestigious book signing and to get some feedback from them about the event. Diane said they were ‘delighted that Mackenzie had chosen The Acorn as the first date on his World Tour! We've been asked by many of our clients to bring him to Pocklington and we have now made that a reality!' She goes on to say that they have had ‘so much lovely feedback from their clients who thoroughly enjoyed the evening and were thrilled to have had the chance to meet him and hear him talk in such depth about his work'. John continued by adding that ‘many happy people will receive signed Mackenzie Thorpe books in their Christmas stockings this year!' I added to that by saying I will be one of them.

Finally Mackenzie discussed one of his most recent projects. It was a specially commissioned piece for The Northern Echo, the Darlington local newspaper and part of the Newsquest Group. He was asked to paint something for the front cover of their edition to commemorate the centenary of the Great War. The inspiration hit him at 2am the morning following the request. The result was a large lonely, but beautiful poppy set against a dark and disturbing landscape with a slight dull sun trying to shine through and shed some warmth. On the poppy is a single tear. In that tear are the silhouettes of some soldiers walking wearily with rifles slung over their shoulders. He has done this work in support of Help For Heroes. Of this commission Mackenzie says ‘it was an honour and a privilege to be asked to help commemorate this event’.

So, thanks to Mackenzie Thorpe for his time, thanks to John & Diane for use of their lovely gallery and thanks to all of you for reading this article...

A Question of Artistry - Sarah Louise Ewing

1) At what age did you first take a regular interest in drawing or painting?

I have always painted and drawn, for as long as I can remember. My father still has pictures I created from when I was 3 or 4 years old. It has always been my most favourite thing to do. When I was a child I would always ask for WH Smiths vouchers for birthday and Christmas, so that I could go and buy pencils and paint. I have painted all my life, I have never stopped.

2) When did you sell your first painting and what was it?

My first sale was a portrait commission – as doing very traditional, oil portraits is how I started out. My first “sale” was a long time ago – sometime in the 90’s. My friend Rosemarie asked me to paint her son Conor, who was then only about 3 years old. Conor is now a very handsome young man in his twenties and I still wonder where all that time has gone!

3) How did you feel when you first realised you could earn money from this?

It was a complete thrill – and it still is. I am always excited each and every time one of my paintings is sold. I love to know about all of them – either thanks to the gallery or the customer themselves getting in touch. Life is expensive. When someone chooses to spend money which they have worked hard for on something I have created – well it is a huge honour. If you are an artist and you don’t feel this way each time you make a sale, then you should put down your brushes and find something else to do.

4) What is your preferred medium and has it always been the same?

These days I use mainly acrylic paints and ink. But I started out using oils. I still love oil paint – the rich, buttery nature of it is alluring. But acrylics are more adaptable and you can achieve many more different effects with them. They also dry quickly, which is a bonus.

5) Have you ever painted something you couldn’t bear to part with? Why?

Yes. Some years ago I was wrestling with the idea of giving up my “normal” job and painting full time. It was a hard decision. I was nervous about how I would make ends meet. I decided to give myself the Christmas holidays (from work), to make a decision. During this time I painted an oil portrait of Samuel Beckett, who had the most extraordinary face - one which told a million tales. For some reason it just worked. The painting came together better than I could ever have hoped. And as I stared at his face and he stared back at me, I thought yes, I am going to go for it and paint full-time. I still have that painting and I would never part with it.

6) Where does your inspiration come from?

Much of the inspiration for my fantasy worlds is rooted firmly in the fantastic rock album covers of the 1970’s and 80’s. I remember pouring over these when I was a child, on the rare occasion I was allowed into my brother’s bedroom! Incredible artists like Roger Dean, Patrick Woodroffe, Barney Bubbles – I used to love the cover art they produced for bands like Hawkwind, Yes and Pallas. It encouraged me to seek them out and look at work they had done outside of record sleeves. I also have a deep love of Kit Williams’ paintings - you might remember him from the book Masquerade. His work is an enormous influence on me. There is a certain kind of Britishness in his work and a good amount of humour. I think these artists fell out of favour for a while. But I have never stopped loving them.

7) What do you do when you’re stuck for ideas?

If I get a bit stuck, I will try and get out of the studio, out of the house. I am very inspired by my beautiful surroundings. I am lucky enough to live in Gloucestershire, in the Cotswolds. My garden backs on to rolling fields with horses and sheep. The garden itself is abundant with wildlife – birds, squirrels, even a badger. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just get out, get the sun on your face, breathe in the fresh air and take in your surroundings.

8) Do you listen to music as you paint? If so what do you like best?

It all depends on my mood. I love listening to audiobooks as they help me to focus. I go through quite a few per month. Other times I like to listen to music – which can be classical or contemporary. Sometimes, however, nothing else will do, but sticking on some Motorhead and whacking the volume right up to Eleven!

9) If you couldn’t paint what else would you like to do for a living?

It would have to be something creative. I have often thought that I would like to do stained glass window restoration. I love stained glass – and the fact that the process has changed little for hundreds of years. I like the sense of continuity which that brings. Restoration means placing your finger tips in the metaphorical indents of those made hundreds of years ago – both sets of hands doing more or less the same thing, divided only by time. That appeals to me.

10) Do you plan to retire or will you just paint forever?

I couldn’t ever imagine retiring because this isn’t a job, it’s a passion. If I didn’t or couldn’t paint I would be very unhappy. It is something which I am driven to do. It’s part of who I am. I can’t see that changing.

Thanks to Sarah for her memories and for sharing her thoughts with us!
I wonder who to ask next...

A Question of Artistry - Mike Jackson

John & I have been asked to do a few interviews lately and we thought it would be interesting to do something similar with the artists! We picked Mike Jackson as our guinea pig...

Mike Jackson Artist Original Paintings and Limited Edition Prints

1) At what age did you first take a regular interest in drawing or painting?

When I was a child I loved to draw, I was always doodling and would spend hours in my own world. It was just me and my mum when I was a child and we lived with different relatives till I was around nine years old. As a result of this, I didn't get the opportunity to make many friends growing up, so I suppose drawing pictures was my constant. I put down my drawing desires in my teens when I began to fit in and make friends and discovered girls! However I remember being excluded from biology for drawing a very realistic body part.

2) When did you sell your first painting and what was it?

When I was in my 20's I worked in the operating theatres in Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester. I brought in a pastel drawing of a painting which I copied (it was of Bubbles by Millais) A doctor asked me to paint a portrait of his baby and I got £15 for it. (Around a days wage at the time). Word got around and I was drawing at least two each week, nicely supplementing my meagre salary. My first 'proper sale' was from a gallery in Yeovil. When I got a great price for a painting. I was asked to paint 12 more pictures, which was the start of my art career.

3) How did you feel when you first realised you could earn money from this?

This was when I was asked to paint the 12 pictures. I couldn't believe it, you would have thought I had won the lottery. To be able to do what you love the most....and get paid for it! Does life get any better? If I didn't get paid, I would still paint, it is in my blood.

4) What is your preferred medium and has it always been the same?

I have mainly been a watercolour artist but moved over to oils as I began painting larger pieces. I feel that an oil painting is usually a statement painting, something you would hang in the lounge. Whereas watercolours are ideal to be hung in kitchens and bathrooms etc.

5) Have you ever painted something you couldn’t bear to part with? Why?

Yes, I painted a hoody called the stowaway. It was such a rich painting and it just made me smile.

6) Where does your inspiration come from?
I love to pop down to the harbour quayside and sit and have coffee. I people watch and am fascinated by the funny things people do.

7) What do you do when you’re stuck for ideas?

I sit with my pad and just sketch anything, it doesn't have to be anything clever but it is funny how just drawing triggers off your creative part of the brain. It is just about practising and pushing through.

8) Do you listen to music as you paint? If so what do you like best?
I love to listen to David Bowie, the kinks, and a bit of opera. I have all of David Bowie's early songs. My favourite is 'Hunky Dory'

9) If you couldn’t paint what else would you like to do for a living?

I would love to be a gynaecologist! ;) Seriously, I cannot think of anything else I would like than to paint.

10) Do you plan to retire or will you just paint forever?

I will never retire if I can help it. As long as my eyes are working and my hands don't shake, I will be painting. I may paint pictures which take years to complete and I am not reliant on an income.

To See the Current Paintings by Mike Jackson Click This Link:

Thank you very much to Mike for sharing his time and his inspiration with us :)
Keep watching to see who will come next...

Help! I Have No Room!

As we go through life we accumulate pieces of artwork from all kinds of places. Some is inherited, some is gifted, some is impulse bought and some is carefully chosen and deliberated over...

Have you ever thought how different your home would look if you took down all of your art and started again?
Where Can I Hang a New Piece of Art?

You know straight away that there are some pieces you would never get rid of, and also some that you may take down but still keep, safely wrapped up for another time. Perhaps even loan them out to family :)

You look at what's left and decide what to put where... you'd be surprised how different a piece looks in different light, or on a different wall...

All of a sudden you're back in control, you have those pieces that mean the most in prominent sight, and you have space... room for something new, a piece that you have looked at and loved but felt unjustified in buying because you already had so much...

Life is short... Look at your house with fresh eyes, look at your art with new critique, allow yourself to break old moulds and try something new...

After all... Variety is the Spice of Life!

Are You Twitterpated?

The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York on Twitter
Facebook or Twitter?

Most of us love one and hate the other and yet here we are, spending (according to some reports) over 2 hours per day on social media!
The Acorn Gallery Pocklington York on Facebook

As an individual you can choose whether to get involved and how much time to spend on it...

As an Independent Business, social media is pretty essential! It gives a relatively simple and effectively free way to promote yourself.

Setting up a Facebook Page and a Twitter profile is quite straightforward... but what next? 

What do you say? 
How do you say it? 

Can you really say something interesting in only 140 characters?

YES You Can!

One way to use both mediums effectively when you don't have time to master both is to LINK your accounts. You can make the link work in either direction but not at the same time. If you like Facebook, have an automatic link to Twitter, if you prefer Twitter, link it the other way :)

Facebook is quite easy to update with a simple status, a photo from your smart phone, a link from your website but when it comes to squashing all that into 140 characters then a kind of panic sets in... but when you link your accounts then a Facebook post will automatically tweet the same thing for you!

Linking your Facebook Page to your Twitter profile is easy - click this link to see how!

Now go and do some Facebooking on your page and watch how your Twitter account suddenly gets busy too!

On The Bench (A Pocklington Poem)

The bench it is quite welcome
For many in this town,
For visitors and locals
There’s folk from all around! 

‘Rest your weary legs’ It calls, 
In solid wooden tones 
‘Don’t push on when you’ve far to go, 
You soon won’t be alone…’

People sit and stare awhile, 
Watching world pass by, 
Making conversation, 
With strangers by their side… 

Lovers sit and lose themselves, 
Arms draped round one another, 
Before they wander on again, 
And make room for another… 

Cyclists they love the bench, 
It gives them place to rest, 
As the daily challenge 
Of the Coast to Coast is pressed.

Dogs mostly sit beside the bench, 
(While owners drink their tea) 
Or sleep beneath its welcome shade, 
(The owners quietly read…) 

Tiny tots, with ice-creams, sit, 
Swinging tiny legs, 
While Mother waits with tissues, 
To wipe face despite protest! 

Sometimes bags and jumpers lie, 
Alone, unclaimed for days, 
Then quietly they disappear, 
As quickly as they came! 

The bench is like a time capsule, 
Where moments linger on… 
A place where you can rest your soul, 
Before you carry on… 

So when you come across a bench, 
Just like the one in Pock, 
Allow yourself a moment, 
To pause and just take stock… 

Life is busy, busy, 
With always lots to do, 
It’s easy just to pass on by, 

Original Prints? Original Thinking!

When an artist paints a picture it is called the 'original', we all know this.

When prints are made there can be two types: Open edition and limited edition. We just wanted to take a few moments to explain the difference for those who are new to all this :)

Open edition prints have no limit to how many can be printed. They just keep printing more and more for as long as the picture continues to sell. Open editions do not generally keep their value and most artists prefer a 'Limited Edition' .

A 'Limited Edition' Print run has a limited number of prints in the run (eg 50). Each print comes with a Certificate of Authenticity which states the number of prints made and guarantees that no more prints will be made. Limited edition prints often keep their value well and can go up in price depending upon demand.

Occasionally there are 'Artist proofs' or 'printers proofs' or some times even 'Hors de Commerce' pieces, These are basically an extra number of prints apart from the main run. In the olden days the first few prints weren't as good as the main run because of the setting up process of the printers press. These days all prints are just as good as the next and there is no difference. Having said that some people do find that they prefer the proof editions - although they aren't always available!

Welsh artist Kerry Darlington developed a new type of print called a 'Unique Edition'. These are limited in number but each one is hand finished with unique elements and is different to every other piece in the edition. It is a brilliant concept and has helped to make her work very collectable.

Easels are Weasels!

Who would've known that there are so many types of easel? Small ones, large ones and in-between sized ones! Wooden ones, aluminium ones, heavy duty metal ones… Who would know that you could have an H-frame, a boxed easel or a tripod version?

When considering display options for our forthcoming event at Saltmarshe Hall John and I were looking for a more portable and stylish way of displaying the artwork. We considered a few options but the easel seemed the best way forward… We started looking for something suitable, it had to be tall, floor standing, sturdy and of course smart! They would need to be stored when not in use so compactability was a consideration too!

We have now looked at and considered the practicalities of so many easels that we really are almost experts! Anyway, after the random use of the word craft on a Google search we came across these beautiful ornate wrought iron easels.

Standing 1.8 m tall they look beautiful and seem very sturdy too! They fold flat when not in use and seem to fit the bill perfectly!

So we took the plunge and bought 15…