Yesterday was my birthday and, by chance almost, it took in three art exhibitions, two directly part of Aldeburgh Music’s Festival and the other in a commercial gallery in Aldeburgh timed to coincide with the Festival.
The principal exhibition is in the Peter Pears Gallery, Aldeburgh: ‘John Craske: Threads’. I was unfamiliar with this artist’s work, and was not apparently alone. ‘Not much is known about the Norfolk fisherman, painter, embroiderer and chronic invalid, John Craske … ‘, writes Julia Blackburn in the Festival Catalogue at the start of her essay on Craske (pp. 200-05). To my eyes, the assemblage on display ranges from the dismal to the exceptionally good, his subject (ships, fishermen and the sea) and his naive style unmistakably reminding me of the contemporary St Ives artist, Alfred Wallis. Some of Craske’s sea-scenes, of little boats and big seas in particular, were sufficiently vivid as to make it feel as if the Gallery floor was heaving. Though I sympathise with his plight which ultimately drove him to stop painting and do embroidery in bed instead, I found myself unsympathetic to his embroidery as art.
The other two exhibitions were of Richard Bawden and Matt Collishaw. I might have a word about the latter in looking at the whole of the art display on site at the Maltings, Snape; but of the former all one need say is that the exhibition was exactly what you would expect of a Richard Bawden exhibition: thoroughly enjoyable if you like his sort of art, but there is not much variety or subtlety to fall back on if you don’t. I bought a Winchcombe pottery candle-holder.