ANGELA Chalmers’s quiet nudes lend a grounding calm to this exceedingly festive and lively exhibition. In the centre of the gallery is a table festooned with an eclectic mix of felt, wool, silk, ceramics and glass, fashioned into jewellery, scarves, purses, pictures, everything under the sun – a mini-market for imaginative Christmas presents.
For sheer decorative fairy-tale vibrancy it’s hard to beat Claire West’s paintings. Her two fat robins perched up a tree are almost but not quite camouflaged by the poppy-like blossoms and the tumbling leaves dislodged by their flutterings. Her acrylic work The Seafront is a fantasy symphony in pinks, yellows and blues, pleasing to the eye and uncompromisingly cheerful. The flowers and houses look just as excited to be beside the sea as we humans are.
Shirley Vauvelle’s glowing canvases call to mind those long-ago nights in remote places when something – maybe an owl’s hoot – has woken me up. I’ve padded across to the window and looked out at silent moonlit countryside. The awe on the faces of the artist’s birds and humans is exactly how I felt at the time.
In the bleak midwinter a figure trudges doggedly through Malcolm Ludvigsen’s atmospheric snowscape Walmgate Stray, York. Snow sits in heavy lumps on the boughs, the slightest gust will blow them down. Memories of winter ’63 come flooding back.
Bulldog, cow, calf and rabbit have done their best to oblige by posing nicely for artist Paul Robinson as he sketches. They look as respectfully curious as Nativity animals –but the cat, naturally, can’t be bothered. It’s having a good scratch.
Mindful of its location, the gallery always includes in its exhibitions a celebration of the sea. As you look at Jean Luce’s Bempton Cliffs and Birds the cliffs come to life. You can hear the yelling of the seabirds as they home in on their nests, and sense the texture of the grass clinging to the ledges.
Lynne Roebuck’s small and exquisite etching entitled Tiny’s at Sea shows a boat tossed about on the crest of a wave. It appears to be perilously poised, but what you find yourself focusing on is the exuberant bouncy playfulness of the sea.
And needless to say, Andrew Cheetham’s miniatures are selling well – the power of the North Sea, caught in a tiny frame.
The gallery is open from noon to 5pm Thursday to Saturday and 11am-4pm Sunday.