Driving around Surrey at the moment you may notice orange signs declaring the opening of Artist’s Studios. (SOAS). If you’ve never visited one before then you are missing a real and rare treat. I’ve just discovered there’s one on my doorstep on Marley Common, Haslemere, the Artful Gallery. I spent the most spellbinding morning viewing this year’s exhibition of twenty of Surrey’s most talented sculptors and artists.
The gallery was started by the collaboration of two sculptors, David Paynter and Helen Pittick about four years and has gone from strength to strength as its reputation for high quality, innovative art has grown. People travel across the south to visit and the morning I was there David was enjoying a conversation with a Canadian couple on their annual pilgrimage. It’s clear to see why this annual exhibition is gathering such momentum.
David and his wife Lynn have completely transformed this once derelict site. As you arrive, the gates open to reveal your first glimpse of the landscaped garden and house, a harmonious balance and visual delight, the perfect setting for modern sculpture.
The architectural Huf Haus they built, provides the space from which the garden radiates outwards, covering a total of six acres, flowing from the Japanese influenced courtyard, through prairie styled planting, to the shady glades of the woodland.
Sculpture has been carefully and creatively placed, an art form in itself, so that the work is shown to its best. You are able to touch and walk around the pieces, allowing you to interact with them and imagine how they can work in your own space at home.
I thought the mix of styles of work and materials used was so interesting. I had the opportunity to discover new artists all in one location. What I appreciated was the way that so many of the sculptural works on display could easily be transferred from a garden setting to inside the home!
A conscious effort has also been made to have a broad price range to make art affordable. So many times I can arrive at an exhibition and instantly feel intimidated by the prices and that can dampen part of the experience, feeling that only a few can afford to buy. So I was pleasantly surprised that the piece that kept drawing me back time and again I could afford! Needless to say I’d already worked out exactly where it would work .
The exhibition runs from the 18th to 21st June and is open from 11am to 5pm. There is a late evening until 8pm on Thursday, as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
Visit www.theartfulgallery.co.uk for directions and further details.