A round up of recent events including Gritting in Bishops Stortford ... Find out whose designs have been selected for the RSPB Christmas Cards for 2011, How much the innovative "Secret" art sale raised for Macmillan Cancer Support ... and more....

Graffiti + Knitting = Gritting !

Artist in Residence Connie Flynn has been working with students from Bishops Stortford College on a Gritting Project. The students have been meeting for one hour a week to knit.

They have had the opportunity to explore a variety of materials - knitting with glow yarn, carriers bags, ribbons, gift ribbon and t-shirts. Learning to use a range of needles including giant needles and creating their own yarns by mixing different yarns together.

Many have not knitted before and some students continued to knit on their own projects after the Gritting project had ended. The project was completed when a tree on the college grounds was covered in knitting.There has been a huge response to the project from adults and children. Connie watched from her studio daily to see people stop, look and some children hug or stroke the tree. Many people have been curious about the Gritting with lots of questions asked.
Gritting or Yarn bombing has been and is happening worldwide, this is where knitters wrap their knitting around public property like trees, lamposts, signs, fences etc. Then after photographing their work they post the photographs on the internet for other knitters to see and comment.



Come rain or shine - Art on the Common 2011 offered family fun, sun, rain and (a little..!!!) pain.  As usually happens with outdoors events, before they occur, there is always a feeling of apprehension and anticipation about the weather on the date they are due to take place.

Art on the Common 2011, set on a two mile tract of open green space in Harpenden, was no exception in this regard and, if you had been involved in the event as I’ve been for the last 3 years, you’d start checking the weather forecast at least two weeks before it.

This year the expectation was for rain which made a lot of exhibitors take extra precaution with their displays, making sure they were water and wind proof.

Glorious Saturday, very wet Sunday

To our surprise, the sun shone the whole day on Saturday and the stands were well visited. There was definitively a buzz in the air – children running around, acquaintances bumping into each other, artists doing demos on site, laughter and joy.

Works included paintings, jewellery, greeting cards, ceramics, sculptures, photographs and homeware such as cushions, chairs and even a funky wheelbarrow.

After all that jazz on Saturday, we all woke up to truly torrential rain on Sunday. Some brave souls, nevertheless, were not put off by the prospect of a soaking day and raised their tents.

After all, as an event that has been running in Harpenden for over 25 years and with 20% of its proceeds going to Cancer Research UK, the show had to go on… until next year when we’ll all hold our hopes high again for a full weekend of blue skies.


The organisers advised that takings were a little down due to the weather on Sunday, but still raised an amazing £1500 for CANCER RESEARCH.

HVA Members wishing to participate in 2012 should register their interest with Joy Reynolds on 01582 620961.



'Trees in Winter' by Anna Pye

News from artist Anna Pye is that two of her lino cut designs have been selected by the RSPB to use as Christmas cards for 2011.

They are both of trees in the winter with bird 'foot prints' in the snow, the RSPB are choosing their own colours.

"It happened by chance, in that someone saw my work at my Studio and came back later to buy a print."

"I had just had my cards printed as my own Christmas card and they saw them. This girl works on products for the RSPB and put my designs forward and they were accepted."

Anna has her work currently on display at The Copper Beech Gallery in Little Wymondley and will be participating in Herts Open Studios this September.


'Snowy Trees' by Anna Pye



Connie Flynn’s delightful exhibition in a telephone box in Little Hadham provided an amazing splash of colour, enough to cheer anyone up on an otherwise grey and VERY wet Sunday 12th June 2011.

Using her exquisite feltmaking in vibrant red she displayed 3 hanging pieces and a covering for the floor. 

The hanging “pods” were hollow with intriguing holes cut into the surface.

She created a colourful textured finish to her floor piece, together with a delightful pair of children’s shoes, complete with silver stitching.

We signed the visitors book sitting in the car, which had to be Connie’s base – no way could one sit outside. 

A drop or two of rain on the ink on the page was an unavoidable indication of the inclement weather on the day, but her lovely work was really uplifting and inspirational.


Tessa Barnes signing the visitors book


With more than three decades of exhibiting high quality art, Ayot St.Lawrence’s show  at the 18th century Palladian Church has become an event consolidated  in the county’s art calendar and still never to be missed.

Denise Bowser


Hidden at the end of a narrow lane, the Grade 1 listed neo-classical church continues to be an  unusual but perfect setting to view art.  More than 600 works in paintings and ceramics were on display, with over 400 of them  framed and adorning the church’s elegant walls.  More room for the unframed works was found in a big tent facing the entrance of the church.

To make it a perfect day out, the venue also offered  visitors refreshments outdoors, to one side of the church, where you could sit at a table and enjoy yummy home-made cakes coupled with a tasty cup of coffee.

The works
120 artists joined efforts to put together a large show.  Fine artists revealed their talents through a variety of techniques  which included watercolours, oils, acrylics and pastels, in addition to mixed media, collage, pen&wash, applique, etching, linocut, lithograph, monoprint and collograph. The ceramists and sculptors showed their fused glass, jesmonite, fired clay, paper clay, bronze and stoneware.

The artists
Among various HVA members such as Mitzie Green, Dilys Hallybone, Michael Cull, Jan Makower and Renos Lavithis, ”well-known artists Ross Loveday and Ronald Maddox, whose works Prince Charles collects, also had pieces in the exhibition”, remarked one of the organisers Penny Berrington.

The exhibition also provided art lovers and buyers with an opportunity to bag a bargain. “Artists like Andrew King and Ann Songhurst  usually have their works being sold in galleries at twice the price as they were here”, commented Carole Aldridge, another organiser.  “Their pieces were offered at a good value here because the artists really wanted to help us with fundraising”, she added.

Raising money for a good cause
The main purpose of the show is to make a financial contribution towards the preservation of the village’s two historic churches. Artists donate 25% of the proceeds to help the tiny community of 45 dwellings maintain their memorable buildings.

As a fundraising initiative, the art show has proved to be a success. “In 2010 we raised £8,000 and this year, just on the private viewing day we sold pieces worth £10,000”, exclaimed Berrington. With £50,000 already in the bank, the Ayot St. Lawrence community still needs a staggering  £200,000. to complete the building’s long term restoration works.

Looking at the high quality of the works beautifying the Palladium Church’s ancient walls, I’m sure the money will keep rolling in at this very small and picturesque village for many years to come…




On its last day I went along to The University of Hertfordshire to view School Of Creative Arts Open Exhibition, which was being held in the Todd Building at College Lane Campus.

I have to admit I did get slightly lost trying to find it! But it was certainly worth the trouble.  The collection was an entire mixture of textiles, form and, well...paints and pencils!

Though not usually a huge fan of sculpture, I was surprisingly impressed by the ones shown there. Two works by Mary McSweeney stood out, even though they may have been the smallest. Hands- cement fondue of clay original- palms entwined in a cute clasp. And a `Living scalp’ the forehead encrusted with tiny stones, the actual head was hollow and being used as a pot for growing cress!
The paintings by Michael Francis had an air of Matisse’s `La Danse’ about them, most notably the way in which the figures were drawn at jaunty angles, with no particular defined facial features.  At a complete opposite to that, a close up of a dogs face by David Kell `Dog Eyes’ was so adorable, Kell had indeed captured the essence of the animal.   
Pottery objects especially seemed to be proving a hit. In particularly I liked those by Anna Walker, which she said were inspired by a pot she had bought from Jane Gibson (also an artist). Walker had fired all the pots herself in a homemade paper kiln.
Visiting lecturer Paul Bainbridge, who has held talks at The National Portrait gallery and worked at Madame Tussauds, spoke to me about the students work and how impressed he is with the amount of originality and quirkiness of what has been produced.
The University holds several different exhibitions, and also advertises any news and upcoming events about their students on the website




The Macmillan ’Secret Art Sale’, in June was a roaring success and raised £9500 for Macmillan Cancer support.

Macmillan organisers Sadie Homer & Sue Hobley

The event, supported by many members of Herts Visual Arts, got off to a flying start when 93 paintings donated by artists and celebrities were sold in just two hours at the Preview Evening held at the A&K Wilson Gallery in Harpenden. Everyone attending enjoyed a glass of wine or two with potential purchasers jockeying to pick up the bargains.

Some of the artwork on display

The queue snaked around the little gallery and some were disappointed to see a red dot on their favourite piece, but this just served to whip up a frenzy of buying which left gallery owner Drew Wilson and the Macmillan Committee ladies frazzled but very happy by the end of the evening!

Drew Wilson explained, “The pictures were all 12cm x 12cm, were signed on the back and were all £45 so they were bought on the strength of the image rather than any kudos attached to the artists name.  That was the really nice thing about this event, was that the artworks really sold on merit. We sold a painting by a year 12 student from Sir John Lawes School which stood comparison with pieces by some of the members of the Royal Societies who also took part.”

The Macmillan committee and myself would really like to thank all the members of Herts Visual Arts who so generously donated artwork, we couldn’t have done it without you, thanks!”

“I think the idea really captured the publics imagination, by the end of the event we had sold 153 out of the 180 on display. So after a break next year we’ll be back to try to raise even more funds and have even more fun!”