Sunday, July 24, 2011

Meadow: Helen Ganly

It is always encouraging to hear of environmental success stories and here I am writing of an exhibition held to celebrate one. In 2006 Oxford's Warneford Meadow, a piece of open space enjoyed by the community, was under threat from developers and was finally saved by an intensive campaign. The Meadow is now registered as a town green.

During the process, campaigners became intensely involved with all aspects of this invaluable threatened land, desiring to record all aspects of it. Out of this work grew Meadow, an exhibition held in Oxford's Art Jericho gallery. Here I must apologise for writing about it after the event, it having closed on July 9th....

The exhibition included paintings and installations by artist Helen Ganly, photographs by Andrew Carter and meadow sounds by Mari Prichard. As valuable as the work of her colleagues was, I am devoting this post to the work of Helen. Here another apology is necessary, for the poor quality of my photos of her paintings, distorted by reflections- I can only hope you get some idea of their charm and delicacy...

Having recently been involved in painting and photographing a meadow in full bloom in Wales, I related particularly to some of Helen's wild flower studies:

And here is the flower of a Horse Chestnut tree:

The following two images are of Helen's designs for mugs she created to promote the Friends of Warneford Meadow. First, the named wild flowers:

Secondly, the named Apples from some of the trees growing in the orchard. I was fascinated to learn that Dr Barrie Juniper had identified 14 varieties- all with delightfully familiar old fashioned names, such a joy in these days when you are bombarded in the supermarkets with little else other than Galas and Golden Delicious (to my mind, very tasteless and un-delicious!)...

For this project, Helen had also drawn from her country childhood experiences, and the following display holds a mixture of evocative insects and memorabilia:

Here are some of the studies she made of the insects:

For the exhibition, Helen produced a large meadow painting as (quote)"an attempt to conjure up the complex evocation of 'MEADOW', drawing on memories and a sense of 'place' ." Here are some studies for it, concluding with the final result:

It is great to think that this very English environment is still here to be enjoyed by Oxford's residents, thanks to the work of many grassroots activists...

Note: all the above paintings, drawings and arrangements are the work of Helen Ganly.

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