Exhibition review - South Street Gallery

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MINI ART 2009 was such a success that curator Angela Chalmers decided to do it again. This time she threw out a wider net to pull in amateurs and beginners as well as established names like Andrew Cheetham and John Thornton, and she caught 90 artists.

Some 900 pictures were submitted. All are postcard size and cost £20, with £1 going to St Catherine’s Hospice. When Angela makes a sale she fills the gap in the display with another picture from the stock room, so the kaleidoscope shifts and the colours fall into ever-changing patterns.

The subjects are, in a nutshell, everything under the sun. Gnarled old trees rub shoulders with elephants, ripe tomatoes and the Angel of the North. Materials and techniques jubilantly cover the entire art spectrum.

I looked for mood and found it in the shadows beyond Tracy Himsworth’s half-open stable door and in the deep dark colours of Jon O’Connor’s seascapes. Faces stared back at me from the windows in Mariel Borst Pauwel’s sombre buildings. What were they looking at, with those piercing eyes?

The landscapes made me wonder how an artist can get such a huge painting onto such a tiny piece of paper. My favourite, by Kate van Suddese, showed a pallid moon sailing over endless fields. A windy night, by the looks of it, when you might expect to hear Mr Rochester howling for Jane Eyre in his loneliness.

If you want something to make you smile, you’ll find plenty. I saw pretty jellyfish that looked far too cheerful to give anyone a vicious sting, and a bird strutting about like a pompous cleric lecturing his flock. Then there was a lovely fat-tummied cherub, dreamily painted by Rosie, of Rosie’s boudoir next door.