Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Closed & Opened

Last week I went to the Christmas Show Private View at The Henshelwood Gallery in Newcastle. This was both exhilarating and sad. Sad, because it was the final private view there. The gallery is closing. When it goes, Newcastle will have lost the best private gallery it has, leaving only Gallagher & Turner to carry the flag for good honest painting.

But it was also an exhilarating show because it included half a dozen exquisite small oils by Andrew Gifford. A real painter's painter, Gifford has made the study of light his life's work and his pictures glow with a radiance which is hard to describe.

He was studying for his BA in Fine Art at Newcastle University when I was taking a part-time OCA course there, and I followed his working methods and his progress with great interest. His work was a major influence on me at the time. My only regret is that I didn't buy one of his River Tyne paintings then. I certainly couldn't afford one now, given that his small oils (about 8 x 8 ins) at the Henshelwood were selling (and they did all sell) for £4600. Amazing, considering in the same show were a couple of oils about the same size by John Houston, and they were for sale at only £1700.

For days afterwards, I found myself looking at Andrew Gifford skies and it's set me to reappraising some of my own work and rethinking where it is I ought to be going. Inevitably, of course, I have to be my own person, but I think I may at times have strayed too far from the Gifford-inspired road I set out on 15 years ago.

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