Crafting a Difference – Spotlight on Paintings

  • As the 33rd edition of the London Art Fair draws to a close this weekend, we shine the spotlight on those of our artists whose paintings have been selected as part of the Fair and part of Crafting a Difference at Soshiro.


    Solitude – Group Painting Hang for Crafting a Difference at SoShiro
    Shown here paintings by David Edmond and Tony Beaver



    Group Painting Hang for Crafting a Difference at Soshiro

    Being locked down over the course of a year has brought with it many challenges, one of those being dealing with enforced solitude. With social activities prohibited, as social animals, we are having to spend more time in our homes alone with our thoughts. Being outside has been a welcome solace and nature has been a great comfort over this unsettling time and this experience inspired our group hang for Crafting a Difference.

    The stairwell leading up to the third floor of the exhibition at SoShiro features a series of paintings by four of our artists that emulate a feeling of being lost in nature, comforted by the thought that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. We see paintings of solitary objects, of big open spaces and of people and animals alone, immersed in and at one with nature. As humans we have had to find new ways to adapt and have been forced to take time to observe our environments, to slow down and commune with nature. Within despair there is hope, solitude has long been praised as a necessary condition for creativity, as this collection of paintings is testament to.


    David Edmond, Adrift 2, 2020, oil on panel, 20 x 28 cm


    David Edmond has painted a series of works featuring man in nature. ‘Adrift 2’ is the centre piece of this hang. A naked man floats in the sea, face up to the sun, unclothed, vulnerable yet free, primal even. The sun catches his toes and facial features so beautifully and we can literally feel a sense of abandonment, liberation and peace.

    David Edmond paintings (on left)
    The Red Bow, oil on panel, 36 x 30 cm, 2018
    The Knitted Blanket, oil on panel, 42 x 36 cm, 2020


    In ‘The Red Bow’ a young girl is camouflaged in the long grass, just her red bow really visible. In Knitted Blanket, another girl with her trusty four-legged companion, sits in the long grass contemplating her view, as our eye is drawn to her detailed knitted blanket keeping her warm from the elements.

    A naked man dives down to the sea bed, again with a sense of freedom as he bares all in the intense blues and greens of the sea. David has an incredible ability to capture this feeling of solitude, even when he paints a crowded beach, our focus shifts to vignettes of people alone in their own worlds. The juxtapositions between his detailed figures against the looser more abstract backgrounds make his paintings so distinctive and unique.


    David Edmond Diver 2, oil on panel, 42 x 30 cm, 2020

    Also painting very detailed objects and animals is painter Tony Beaver, whose treasured subjects appear to float in the darkness around them. Tony says he likes to give the humble object he paints the sort of attention reserved for portraiture giving the painting an emotional kick, elevating the lowly.

    As domestic pets, guinea pigs have a short lifespan, a treasured yet transient pet for the many families that keep them. Tony explores this relationship in his guinea pig paintings capturing this fleeting gem, like a beautiful pot in a museum, recorded forever in paint. He paints this animal in great detail and has an amazing ability to encapsulate the pathos and tenderness felt by their owners, the touch of white, capturing the light and perhaps soul of the creature in the eyes so perfectly. It floats within the dark green almost black void around it, giving it a beautiful sense of abstraction, drawing out focus to the scale of this creature as we realise just how tiny we are in this vast sublime universe.

    Tony Beaver, Guinea Pig, 2020, oil on canvas, 60 x 40 cm


    Tony Beaver, Museum Study 19, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 cm, 2020


     Tony Beaver, Museum Study 15, oil on canvas, 20 x 20 cm, 2020


     Kate Sherman, Woods 5. 2020, oil on panel, 35 x 35 cm

    Kate Sherman has personal reasons for making this series of woodland paintings which she began a year ago, just after a very close friend had died. She started painting the woods but felt something was missing compositionally and conceptually. She needed an object to be in amongst the trees and thought it should be white (to work formally), so had the idea of the plastic chairs. She liked the juxtaposition of the man-made, mass-produced chairs, discarded amongst the silver birch trees. It wasn’t until she had finished the series and had all the paintings in the studio that it occurred to her that the empty chairs spoke so obviously about loss. Other paintings in this series have white tape tied around the trees forming barriers and dividing off/protecting different areas. There is a quiet, solitary beauty to these paintings, and as the viewer, we are drawn into the mystery of the scene before us, rendered so wonderfully in subtle silvery tones echoed in the bark of the birch trees.

    Left to right top: Kate Sherman, Woods 5, oil on panel, 35 x 35 cm, 2020; Mia Cavaliero, Out Of The Corner Of My Eye, acrylic and mixed media on canvas, 25 x 30 cm, 2020
    Left to right bottom: Mia Cavaliero, Untitled, acrylic on canvas, 25 x 30 cm, 2020; Kate Sherman, Woods 1, 2020, oil on Panel, 35 x 35 cm, 2020


    Mia Cavaliero paints a landscape she goes when she craves solitude. As a painter, sculptor and art therapist working and living in London, she spends most of her holidays walking and sketching in the Peak District which has a special place in her heart and her work. An antithesis to the city, she can disappear in the peaks and unwind alone, immersed in nature. Landscape, particularly that of the Peak District, is an inspiration and the distinct forms in this place are the result of geological formation as well as excavation in the form of quarrying across the region. Mia is interested in the inter-relationship between humans and nature and the effect this has on shaping the topography of this beautiful place. Her paintings are textured and layered, almost abstract in appearance but hinting at the ancient landscapes within.

    Mia Cavaliero: Untitled, acrylic on canvas. 45 x 35 cm, 2020


    Sitting pretty, painting It Was All Dunes Around Here by Jackson Painting Prize 2020 winner Judith Tucker
    Image: Robert Chadwick Photography

    While Judith Tucker’s expertly painted landscapes depict a visual representation of a geographical place, they always have a deeper tale to tell, for Judith is very much drawn to landscapes which have strong visible histories and her response to them often borders on obsession. This painting is one of a series of paintings created in response to the Fitties plotlands in Humberston, a part of North East Lincolnshire coast that might be considered the epitome of a landscape in which the human and non-human are interconnected and entwined. It is a place that invites questions about what is natural and what is unnatural. The Fitties lie behind marshy beach and dunes, a quirky domestication of land protected by raised banks from the threat of tidal surges. Here, since between the wars, local people and visitors have erected their diverse dwellings with individualistic names and styles, in order to enjoy the simple, restorative pleasures of seaside life.

    Judith Tucker, It Was All Dunes Around Here, oil on canvas, 61 x 182 cm, 2019



    Helen Ballardie, Spring, oil and acrylic on canvas, 76 x 102 x 1.5 cm, 2020

    In her latest series of Garden paintings, Helen Ballardie has been inspired by the flowers and plants of her French Garden where she has spent lockdown. The garden is quite wild and has become an inspirational space for the artist where changes in light throughout the day make its contents appear quite magical.  Helen paints these floral motifs weaving in references to her numerous collections of Victorian collages and Indian miniature paintings. In her work there is this juxtaposition of sparse spaces with detailed parts which is similar to the visual surprise of collage. Helen likes to take things out of their context, to give them a flat background. She’s not interested in full landscapes, interior scenes or fully figurative works, but rather the interplay between abstraction and figuration, flattening the images into more of a map like configuration. She began pressing flowers and leaves, like biological specimens and liked the shapes and collaging capability of them. She has introduced this element into her paintings and has also began incorporating real flowers into some.


    See Helen Ballardie at the London Art Fair 2021


    The top floor of the Crafting a Difference exhibition has a much more domestic feel.
    Shown here, paintings by Joseph Goody and Helen Ballardie and sculpture by
    Matthew Chambers which is placed on the beautifully designed sideboard by Shiro Muchiri.
    Image: Robert Chadwick Photography



    Literature plays a large role in painter Jospeh Goody’s influences, his affiliations including writers like Jorge Luis Borges – a writer whose style is said to have an ‘architectural’ quality about it – and Kafka. Indeed, this painting Parapet, was finished at the beginning of the artist’s initial encounters with reading Kafka, thinking about his ideas in relation to painting. He was immersed in reading The Castle at the time and was quite moved. He had been introducing these parapet type horizons into his paintings but hadn’t thought about them in those castle like terms previously. In a similar way to Kafka’s writing, in which a sometimes oppressively ordered universe battles with a tangible sense of humanity, Joseph’s work deals with the tension between the spontaneous and meditated actions in painting, providing the opportunity for something wonderful and authentic to result from such disparate activities.


    Joseph Goody, Parapet, oil on canvas, 120 x 85 cm, 2016

    In next week’s post we’ll take a closer look at the work of some of our ceramicists which features in the Crafting a Difference exhibition at SoShiro.


    Click to view the 3D virtual tour of the Crafting a Difference exhibition at SoShiro London

    Featuring work from Cavaliero Finn, jaggedart, MADEINBRITALY, Vessel London and Ting Ying Gallery
    Curated by Brian Kennedy