THE first ever Glendale Art Festival is launched today, with highlights including an exhibition of Matisse prints and talks by internationally acclaimed local artists.
The month-long festival in Northumberland is all about celebrating the range of arts in the community while trying to boost its economy.
Organiser Frank Mansfield said: “We think it has the potential to be a regenerator for the area.
“We have quite a lot of professional artists in Glendale and north Northumberland. They like it because of the light, the skies, hills and scenery. The festival is partly to give them some recognition and partly to bring people to the area.”
A coup for the festival is the Matisse show, opening today at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler, which will feature 35 lithograph prints on loan from the Hayward Gallery in London through its touring exhibition scheme.
Four crates containing the works arrived on Thursday for a show set to be a huge draw for art lovers and which is being manned by volunteers from arts groups, with leading local artists Sarah Bray and James Hugonin helping to arrange the works.
The plan had been to start small with the debut festival, which has been over a year in the planning, but Mr Mansfield said: “It has turned out to be a fairly big thing.
“The idea had been to start fairly quietly then if it took off and there was demand for an arts festival - and the signs are good that there is - the second one would be bigger. Now we’d have to think how to better this.”
Mr Mansfield is one of the trustees of Glendale Gateway Trust, which supports the community and regeneration and raised the festival’s £1,500 costs.
A second festival will depend on the success of the next two weeks and on raising more funds. Visitors can make donations at venues hosting the free events programme, which includes exhibitions at Glendale galleries, open days at art studios, an exhibition of Wooler Camera Club’s photographs of artists at work, and one by children who produced so much artwork for display in St Mary’s Church that it has to be split into two hangings.
Upcoming talks on June 7 and 15 will both feature Bray and James Hugonin, who have exhibited across Europe and sold works as far afield as Hong Kong and Australia. At their studios at High Humbleton they will discuss their inspiration, show latest works in progress and answer questions from the audience.
Tickets for these talks are free but, as space is limited, those interested should contact the Cheviot Centre on 01668 282 406 to book. The Matisse exhibition will be on display from 10am to 4.30pm until June 16.
A Matisse-theme montage made by Wooler’s U3A art group will also be on display during the festival, which Mr Mansfield hopes will see visitors reacquaint themselves with the town’s attractions.
“The High Street in Wooler has a quaint 1950s feel to it, with two butcher’s shops, a delicatessen and sweet shop,” he said.
“It’s such a lovely place to live.”
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