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SARAH MAYHEW investigates the common thread linking some of our most innovative artists.
The Oxford Printmakers Co-operative was established in 1976 when a group of local artists, many of them Ruskin School of Drawing leavers, felt the need to create their own affordable studio space.
Since then, scratch beneath the surface of the vast majority of art galleries across the county and you’ll come across a name, or six, connected to this proactive co-operative.
Indeed, it’s quite astonishing because they’re everywhere.
Not that this is any great surprise – they’re all highly individual artists, employing a variety of different techniques; and on a very personal level, stumbling across their commitment at almost every creative turn makes me, for one, feel like a proud parent.
Through the years, the co-operative has been involved in many exhibitions in the UK and overseas, and following the success of the O3 Gallery’s Winter 2009 exhibition, members of the Oxford Printmakers Co-operative have secured the space to show their colours again in the O3 Gallery this summer.
Perhaps the most visually arresting work in O3 Imprint is that of Christina Taylor-Smith, whose work, inspired by water and reflections in glass surfaces, possesses a consciousness of the fragility and transient quality of a moment in time.
Taylor-Smith’s vibrant palette draws the viewer into her works, and the intricate combination of line and texture, evocative of form and rhythms found in nature and man-made structures, hold the viewer mid-air in the works’ intoxicating, fragile gaze.
Moving around the gallery, I was thrilled to encounter Caroline Maas’ moody, lively landscape etchings that never fail to transport me from the shelter of a whitewashed gallery to the top of a blustery local landscape.
Maas takes a conceptual approach to printmaking and is becoming known for her technical freedom and the unexpected qualities that are borne out of a reduction of her emotive experiences of the local area.
Whilst very different in approach, another interesting abstract landscape artist from the co-operative is Canadian born France Brodeur. Brodeur’s work possesses a sense of spirituality, and an immense respect for nature.
Drawing on universal experiences such as change and loss, Brodeur attempts to penetrate representational appearances, digging deep into the earthy hues of her palette to expose raw human experience.
I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough, and anyone with an interest in Oxford and/or art should view this eclectic group exhibition and hold on tight. It’s quite a ride.
Other members of the Oxford Printmakers Cooperative featured in this exhibition include: Jane Booth, Suzette Broad, Frances Brodeur, Jackie Conway, Rahima Kenner, Jenny Lines, Jane Peart, Morna Rhys, Jane Walker, Susan Wheeler.
* O3 Imprint exhibition at O3 Gallery runs until August 8. All prints will be available for sale, framed or unframed. Prices on request. Hours: noon-5pm Tuesday-Friday, 11am-4pm Saturday and Sunday