Thursday, 3 May 2012

All Over The Place

Adrienne Brown and Langley Brown were winners of last year's fringe Visual Arts Award for their exhibition Planet Domestos - and Beyond. Also pictured are the big brushes that Langley will be using next year - and maybe a sneak preview of some of the work being exhibited around and about.

This July they'll be quite literally all over the place.

As well as their new joint exhibition mirrorfragmentecho at 18 White Knowle Road, they'll be showing works at the Robin Hood pub on London Road as members of the London Road Group, which also includes Sue Mortin and Norman Elliott.

At the No9 Dress Agency on Hall Bank, Adrienne will exhibiting contemporary fine art prints of fashion drawings she originally made in the late 60s when a student at St Martins School of Art in London.

Adrienne is also one of the organisers of the Fringe's newBuxton Art Trail on 10th and 11th of July. Already affectionately known as BAT, the trail will be a welcome addition, raising the profile of the visual arts in the Fringe.

Langley is also appearing (as a psychiatrist!) in a new stage adaptation directed by local playwright Caroline Small of the radio play The Last Laugh by High Peak Writers, at the Eagle Hotel's Dutch's Bar, 13-14 Jul 7pm to 8pm.

As if that wasn't enough for anyone's July, Adrienne and Langley are also celebrating their ruby wedding anniversary with a big do right in the middle of the Fringe.

They'll be having August off. Apart from making a mosaic garden table for a friend in Oxford.

Adi and Langley made time to tell us a bit about themselves and their work.

What's mirrorfragmentecho about?
Adrienne: for me, the mirror is about reflecting on memories, mainly of childhood, and finding ways through art to create meaning from them. Fragment reflects the way our memories are fragmented, tantalising in their incompleteness, and echo is about the way these fragments recur throughout our lives, bouncing back at us when we least expect them.
Langley: the mirror is also a portal to other worlds; Alice'sLooking Glass - the Red Queen who says you have to run as fast as you can to stay in the same place; and my favourite the dippy White Queen, who believes at least six impossible things before breakfast. As for the fragments, well, same as Adi: our memories are like shards of an ancient vase, we search for missing pieces, or fill them in ourselves. Echo - well she was just a nymph...

How come you're exhibiting at so many venues?
Adrienne: Sue Mortin fixed up to exhibit at the Robin Hood and asked Norman Elliott and us if we wanted to share the space. We are now the The London Road Group. My fine art prints, which I made from the fashion designs I did at St Martins in the late 60s, are on long-term display at Sharon's No9 dress agency on Hall Bank, so they will just stay there through the Fringe and beyond. As for mirrorfragmentechoat our home, well that's just continuing the tradition we started last year with Planet Domestos - and Beyond

Does the work of The London Road Group share a common theme?
Langley: no, not really, apart from the four of us living near London Road; although as with anything you could find links and echoes across our work.

And what was Planet Domestos all about?
Langley: I'd been saying to friends that we'd been 'imprisoned on Planet Domestos' for three years, doing up our house. It also relates to venturing into a creative life 'beyond' child-raising and careers, seeing if we could reactivate the artistic juices that first led us to art college in the 1960s. Great to find we could.

What were your careers?
Adrienne: After art school I was a free-lance illustrator for Singer sewing company. Later on I taught art at New Mills School for several years before working as a community education tutor running arts projects in primary schools in Buxton and Blackbrook. From there I moved into arts and health work, first at the Devonshire Royal, and then as Director of Stockport Arts and Health. I retired in 2006. I'm one of the small group organising BAT, the new Buxton Art Trail launching at this year's Fringe. I'm also training in Oxford to be a transactional analysis psychotherapist.
Langley: I ran an arts centre in Chorley before joining Hospital Art (now Lime) in Manchester in the late 70s. In the 80s and early 90s I was director of START, an arts centre for people in the mental health system. I burnt out and took early retirement in '96 and did my PhD thesis Is Art Therapy? the visual arts and mental health at the millennium at the Manchester Metropolitan University. I also helped set up i am, the national forum for the arts and mental health, and was a director of Bridgehead Arts, the former Buxton based company exploring cross-artform collaboration

Both of your work is varied in technique, media and content; is this a good or a bad thing?
Langley: neither. But I think there's too much emphasis in the arts on consistency. I think it's a commercial thing - easier to market a house-style. I relish chance, serendipity, the unexpected, the ridiculous. I love surrealism. A friend and former colleague who shared some of these traits described our work as stupidism. I like that!
Adrienne: My first love is textiles, my second photography. I've found my Mac inspiring and liberating, and a great way of playing with images that I can later use with many different media. My recent work is quite dark, the family memories stuff, and now I want to do something brighter. The Honesty pieces are about this new direction.

How do you work - do you have separate studios?
Adrienne: I've got a studio (well its actually the spare bedroom!) I really need a space of my own. It's something I never had as a child and it's really important to me.
Langley: yes - Well, I've got a shed. I don't work there, not yet anyway. I anticipate some pressure. I tend to work in the front room, just behind the sofa, so I can watch Corrie while I work. I was doing quite big paintings last year so Adi suggested I did smaller ones so they'd stand a better chance of selling not many people have room for 5metre paintings. Now I can fit a small canvas on my left forearm, a small pot of paint in my left hand, and wander around the house painting.

So, what will you be doing for Fringe 2011?
Adrienne: I will have worked through the angst and be creating pure joy!
Langley: I want to work more freely; I keep gravitating to smaller brushes. Big and messy next year. Watch out, sofa! (Actually, I'll be in the shed. Won't I?)

by Keith Savage - Published 14/06/2010

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