The Alde Valley Spring Festival 2019 at White House Farm, Great Glemham, runs from now till 26 May and it open weekends and Bank Holidays. It is once again a quite staggering administrative achievement, yet maintaining the quality of its artistic contents and social/educational ambitions. The Festival Exhibition and many associated events and various ‘happenings’ are based, as always, on the Farm, the layout of which is illustrated by this on-site poster. But, never standing still, though it remains sui generis, it is different this year.
As the title indicates, this year the Festival has a very specific focus: it is a celebration of gardens, plants and produce and much of the content, – paintings, sculpture, ceramics – is exactly that. In particular there are lots and lots of botanical illustrations. It is also different in its organisation: with a single theme, much of the material is arranged in a ‘curated collection of Solo Shows’, for example Jelly Green shows new iris paintings, Lily Hunter Green ‘explores sonic interactions between flowers and pollinators’, Emma Green presents paintings of winter flowers and springtime blossom – a very ‘green’ exhibition this – and Emma Tennant shows a ‘collection of ink and watercolour paintings of botanical subjects from around the UK …’. As far as possible, each of these shows is in a discrete space, not always to the benefit of the material exhibited. More than 300 works are included in the Festival Exhibition.
(Left) Part of the exhibition in the great barn, a vernacular, tangible space which requires some big exhibits to anchor the exhibition.
(Below) The former Dutch barn, now with its sides and ends filled in, also provides a daunting space requiring visually strong exhibits
Amid such an abundance of botanica, my eyes seized on the several paintings of Perienne Christian such as this one:
Thistle, 2019, Mixed Media on paper. H300mm W400mm
The image is deficient but it was quite impossible to photograph the glazed painting in its frame in exhibition conditions without some reflected light; and I did want to illustrate at least one of these semi-mystical landscapes, to my eyes with a touch of Paul Nash about them.