After his exhibit on Wine Street, it’s good to see local artist Clifton Powell’s dynamic and striking urban images back on display in Devizes, at the wonderful Bluestone Gallery in the Old Swan Yard.
If you don’t recall we featured Clifton back in March on Devizine, when I was glad to be invited to pay him a visit at his home, prior to his exhibit (read it here.) Whist Clifton’s range of themes are diverse, from realistic wildlife to captivating still life and from African scenes to local landscapes, it’s his series titled “Unrest,” which appears to have captivated an audience.
The revolutionary paintings in Unrest are urban by nature, depict scenes of civil unrest, social snags that beset city life, riots, and an affiliation for haunting gasmask images. Orwellian dark portrayals of masked faces rings likeness to David Lloyd’s drawings for V For Vendetta, the mask of which has become synonymous with revolution, used by the hacktivist group Anonymous.
Perhaps a peculiarity placed within a gallery in Devizes, but Bluestone has a vast and varied assortment. It’s an emporium of the unusual and unique, offering a fine taste of British contemporary art and crafts. Guy opened his boutique of art eighteen years ago, and despite a plethora of gift shops, Bluestone is quite unique to Devizes. I asked Guy if he saw his place as a gallery or a shop. Being it sells “gift,” items, greetings card prints, sculpted bowls, quality knitted scarves and such like, I feel Guy is slightly conflicted between answering the question. With a clear fixation with art, he wants to see it as a gallery, but that’s it’s niche; it’s the best of both worlds.
Personally I was drawn to a series of screen-prints specialising in classic British comic characters, little pop-art reproductions from the likes of Dudley Watkins and Leo Baxendale. I’ve fallen in arty-love with the inimitable, almost graphical techniques of local landscape artist Anna Dillon, Caroline le Bourgeois with her vivid pastel street scenes, Helen Theobald’s pastel and oil mixed media local landscapes, and the endearing cartoony pet lino or woodcuts of Alison Reed. But with over a hundred individual artists, photographers, sculptors and jewellery-makers on display, it’s a hive which you could swallow a day in; best find a free parking space before you enter!
There are fine individual sculptures, assortments of curious jewellery, there’s an amusing clay representation of a half-opened tin of sardines on the wall, as I talk to Guy, and the cartoonish fish poking out distract me from what we were discussing! There’s so much going in there, a feast for your eyes over two stories.
As I browse I spot some wonderful prints of Quinten Blake’s Roald Dahl characters, with a passage of text from the respective book, I figured “my daughter would love these,” and I guess in that notion it’s easy to view Bluestone as the kind of “art-shop,” where there is something for everyone; “oh look at that adorable model of a canal long-boat by Frances Noon, my mum would love that!” Shut up Guy and take my money! If, for even if not, “arty-type stuff” isn’t your thing, but urban street art of Banksy et all has caught your attention, Clifton Powell’s addition back into Bluestone just tops the whole experience off; are we still in Devizes?!