2012-2013 Archive

Review of 61st Open Exhibition

The standard this year was once again extremely high and this sentiment was echoed by so many delighted visitors. It also had a very different look and feel compared to previous exhibitions. This is partly attributable to the fact we have a completely new selection panel each year who summon their personal expertise and experience to select a varied cross-section of work. This encompasses just about every genre through traditional, modern, abstract, decorative, representational, graphic, detailed and expressionistic.

Our 2D judges this year were:

  • Brian Innes MA RCA who lectures in textiles at Middlesex University.
  • Tim Benson ROI, a painter of dynamic portraits in oils amongst other things.
  • Ian McDonald, a successful graphic designer.

The 3D judge was:

  • Marko Humphrey-Lahti AMNS ARBS, a sculptor, who produces both figurative and abstract contemporary work.

All of these judges are successful practicing artists in their own right.

We are also very appreciative of our sponsors who so kindly contribute to the Society each year. It is a great honour and incentive to receive one of their donated awards. 

The prize winners this year were as follows:

  • The John Goss Prize for the best in show was awarded to Anne McCormack RI SWA for ‘Ed’s Kitchen’.
  • The Lady Laming Award for the best abstract was awarded to Jean Noble RI SWA for her painting ‘The Sun Retired’.
  • The Bill Dale Award for an outstanding work by a member of the Society was awarded to Kathy Burman for her collage, ‘Urban Evening’.
  • The Mayor’s Award for the best 3D work was awarded to June Pickard for her sculpture ‘Cirque de la Lune’.
  • The Edward Mason Award for the best watercolour painting was awarded to Georgina Mersh for her painting ‘Temple Church’.

There was also a Visitors’ Choice prize and this year it went to Anne Gascoine for her sculpture, ‘Cockerel 11’ which means Anne gets free membership to the Society for a year. Three works with equal votes constituted runner up: two gouache pieces by Adam Yeldham, ‘A Quiet Word’ and ‘Havana Bound’ and an oil painting by T. John Jarrett, ‘Allotment 1:Snow’.

The look of this amazing exhibition, so streamlined and professional, is only made possible by members who give up their time each year to help with the many facets of setting up the show. In particular, I would like to mention those who stewarded and those who pitched in on handing in day, pre hanging day, hanging day and collection day and who are invaluable to the exhibition’s success. A big thank you to all those who participated this year and an invitation to any members who have not done so before, to join the ranks next year. They are busy but fun days and scrumptious lunches are provided on two of them.

And for those of you who did not get your work accepted this year, do not be down hearted. Remember, next year there will be another selection committee, another way of looking at things, another chance. So…. ‘back to the drawing board’ and be productive! 

Janet Benge, Exhibition Secretary

Large gallery of 80 images along with this report, click here for more details.

61st Open Exhibition Prizewinners

From left to right: Councillor Jane Sartin, Mayor of Hertford; June Pickard, Award winner, Mayor of Hertford Award for best 3D work; Craig Morton, Manager of Edward Mason Ltd, sponsor/donor of award for best Watercolour; Georgina Mersh, Award winner, best Watercolour; Paul Swinge, Chairman of HAS; Jean Nobel RI SWA, Award winner, Lady Laming Award for Abstract Art; Lord Laming, sponsor of Lady Laming Award; Diana Dale: Sponsor/donor of the Bill Dale Award; Kathy Burman, Award winner, Bill Dale Award; Anne McCormack RI SWA, Award winner, John Goss award for Best in Exhibition. (Photograph: Peter Goadby-Watt)

The John Goss Prize for Best in Show
Anne McCormack RI SWA
'Ed's Kitchen'

Lady Laming Award for Abstract Art
Jean Noble RI SWA
'The Sun Retired'

The Bill Dale Award
Kathy Burman
'Urban Evening'

The Mayor’s Award – best 3D work
June Pickard
'Cirque de la Lune'

The Edward Mason Award – Best Watercolour
Georgina Mersh
'Temple Church'

Visitors' Choice Award
Ann Gasgoigne
Cockerel II

Hertford Art Society Olympics Exhibition

Hertford Art Society mounted a special Exhibition at the Hertford Theatre Gallery, themed on the Olympic sports. This ran over the course of the Olympics –- 24th July - 11th August 2012.

In 2012 the Society also marks its 60th Anniversary - from its modest start in 1952 it now has over 100 members and its annual Open Exhibition is a popular fixture on the Hertford calendar.

Casting about for a way to celebrate, the Chairman, Geoff Bennett, had the idea of a special show to mark the Anniversary and the London Olympics at the same time. The Show was entirely devoted to the theme of sport, which was quite a challenge for the artists, many of whom are much more comfortable with landscapes, portraits and still life. They certainly rose to the occasion - 50 lively and colourful paintings and drawings were on show at the Hertford Theatre Gallery in a wide range of media including oil, watercolour, mixed media and artists' prints. Fencing, boxing, watersports, equestrian and running were among the sports depicted and a splendid canoeing mobile, almost life-size, circled gently in the air, high above your head.

Demonstration - a City Scene in Oils by Derek Daniells - 23rd April 2013

Derek Daniells is a member of the Wapping Group and enjoys painting town and city scenes, primarily on the spot and as speedily as possible. He had chosen a view of Whitehall looking towards the Thames, with the Houses of Parliament just visible in the distance.

Derek briefly explained how the demonstration would proceed and showed us several finished and framed examples of his work. He told us that he generally worked on prepared MDF boards approximately 10” x 14” in size. (He uses 3 coats of gesso with the last coat tinted to a mid-tone, in this instance a dull warm brown). The reason for this became clear later.

Using a photograph for reference he began the demonstration, using a small brush, and outlined the main blocks of buildings and sky. Using the same brush he then infilled the blocks with colour. When asked why he didn’t use a larger brush he said he preferred to continue without stopping his movements and to work the thin paint into the surface with small strokes.

While he worked he explained that he mainly worked on site although sometimes finishing a painting later in his studio. He also told us some of the comments he received while working on site from passers-by. For example, as he was just blocking out a painting two women came over and looked at what he was doing and one remarked to the other ‘He’s one of those Abstracters’. Returning from lunch about an hour later they again came over to view the work, which was much more advanced, the same woman remarked ‘That’s very nice. Much better than the bloke who was here this morning.’

Towards the end of his demonstration Derek produced his travelling painting box, the lid of which had been adapted to contain and hold in place, his work. He aims to produce a painting within one to one and a quarter hours to complete. He felt that if you had not caught the image within 2 hours the moving light, shadows and highlighting would adversely affect the choices you had to make. Sometimes, if his work was incomplete, he would open his box and add a few touches while sitting on the train. He felt it was a variation to sitting on the train with an open laptop. He got some strange looks from his fellow passengers.

The painting he produced on the evening was created from a series of ‘marks’ which were evident close up but when you stood back the image revealed itself. When asked why the painting he had produced was in ‘warm’ tones whereas the photograph was ‘colder,’ he replied that the painting conformed to his memory of the subject rather than the colours in the photograph. He felt that following a photograph too closely impeded the process of capturing the essence of the scene.

This was an informative and accomplished demonstration and was very much enjoyed by the large number of members who attended.

Artists’ Textiles – Talk by Richard Chamberlain – 9th April 2013

Richard Chamberlain is a dealer in and authority on artists’ textiles and co-author of four books on the subject, the latest being “Artists’ Textiles 1940 – 1976” by Geoff Rayner, Richard Chamberlain and Annamarie Stapleton . Richard brought with him some beautiful examples of garments and fabrics, including one designed by Picasso for the fashion firm Fuller, and he illustrated his talk with a wonderful collection of slides.

The story really started with William Morris, producing his designs to commission around the turn of the last century. Then a whole body of artists’ designs began to emerge which came to include the work of very many famous artists. An early example was Raoul Dufy, who produced 4000 textile designs for the fashion house Poiret. Developing in the avant-garde art movements, such as Expressionism and Constructivism, artists such as Sonia Delaunay and Kasimir Malevich were concerned with creating environments and interiors as much as with easel painting. Added momentum came from the influence of Roger Fry and his Omega Workshops in the twenties.

In the 30s there was a lot of interest in mass production and one American textile firm roped in the work of photographers, producing textile designs featuring industrial objects such as machine parts “for those who are sick and tired of conventional florals”. Many famous names appear during this period including Sutherland, Dali, Miro and Patrick Heron (who, incidentally, designed for Cresta Silks of Welwyn Garden City) and many others, but the movement reached its height in the postwar era, when the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Warhol designed fabrics for mass-produced fashion and furnishings.

During the interval we were able to enjoy handling some of the lovely fabrics and get a closer look at the clothes. Richard was thanked for his fascinating talk which filled an important gap in our programming as we have never had a talk on this subject before.

Elijah comes to Hertford - Concert by the Hertford Choral Society – March 2013

Each year the Art Society is invited to illustrate the theme of Hertford Choral Society's Easter concert. A chance to lay aside the sable no. 2 and pick up a decorators brush and bang out a 2' x 4' pic that will adorn the pillars stretching down the aisle of All Saints Church in Hertford.


This year's concert was Mendelsohn’s Elijah. The prophet seems to have spent a frustrating life berating his fellow countrymen for worshipping false gods. Eventually he ascends to heaven in a fiery chariot, pulled by fiery horses - pretty much how I'd like to go, my ascent accompanied by some good looking angels and the scene illustrated by you lot in the Art Society please.

Ten members of the Art Society volunteered works so that as well as using each pillar we had paintings around the church. They looked great, and added pictorial interest to a terrific concert comprising 120 singers, a 38 strong orchestra, 4 professional soloists, and the Society's conductor, Derek Harrison, in cracking form. And as always an enthusiastic audience filled the church.


One of the bonuses of painting for this concert is that we are allowed to sit in on the final rehearsal and draw or paint the choir and orchestra as they go through their paces. With just hours to go before the performance, and an orchestra who have not previously met up with the choir, there is invariably a slight frisson in the air. At that point we who are painting are more relaxed than our subject.

Themes chosen by our artists were Elijah being fed by ravens (a Janet Benge collage); Elijah scowling at the townsfolk worshipping Baal (John Jarrat); fire descending from heaven (Paul Swinge); a cloud no bigger than a man's hand appearing from the water (Brenda Thompson); Elijah ascending to heaven in a whirlwind (Chris Benton, Geoff Bennett); exhortation to lift up thine eyes to the Lord, whence cometh help (Margaret Crooks); light breaking forth as the light of morning breaketh (Persis Limbuwala), a harvest that is over, the summer days gone, the rivers exhausted! (Stella Hunt); and 'Go up now, child, and look toward the sea' (Veronica Shaw).


Some epic themes, and a chance for two major Hertford Societies to come together. My thanks to all who took part.

Geoff Bennett (Pictures from John J)

“Every mark asks a question” - Demonstration of Abstract Art by Laura Reiter – 29th January 2013

A pleasing number of members attended a very informative and lively demonstration given by Laura Reiter on Abstract Art in Mixed Media. She had brought along a number of colourful, stylised paintings and illustrated books for us to look at, and to whet our appetite.

'Every Mark you make asks a question'
(i.e. need to look at how to balance that mark with perhaps the same colour or mark somewhere else in the picture)

Working from photographs and a reference sketch, Laura began by putting a yellow & green watercolour & and ink wash over Bockingford watercolour paper already coated with a texture gel and a very feint drawing outline. She then stuck some handmade paper on with PVA glue and gave this a wash of ink. Buff Titanium and Cobalt Turquoise Light acrylic paint was applied next, and the shapes of the jug and birds outlined with Oil pastel. Flower shapes were made from a type of thin ‘’sponge’’ material to use as a stamp for coating in paint to add a pattern on the jug, and other shapes were made by using a Lego brick dipped in fairly dry paint.

'The colours or shapes you see in front of you are looking for somewhere to live in your picture'

After the break, Laura carried on with adding a few more shapes with the stamps and then outlined some of the objects with a gold UNIPOSCA pen. These are apparently available in lots of colours and would look as though they would be a great addition to any art box. Tulips were then added in purple watercolour (she uses St.Petersburg ‘’White Knights’’ ) and acrylic ink. A pipette used as a brush added the stems, also in acrylic ink.

The finishing touches were done by adjusting the colour of the birds and the jug with acrylic paint and again outlining some shapes with oil pastels. A very vibrant, colourful image was the result, and I am sure everybody present enjoyed watching the process.

Laura continued to work on the painting later in her studio and the final photograph is her completed work.

Demonstration by Jamel Akib, Illustrator – Portrait in pastel – 27th November 2012

On the face of it, pastel being a direct and immediate medium, it should be easy to use. To get the best out of pastel, however, experience and practice is needed to obtain the subtleties and tones which make it such a beautiful medium.

In getting commissions for magazines and newspapers, Jamel Akib had already demonstrated some skill with this medium whilst still a student.

The chosen subject for this demonstration was a portrait from a photograph. Jamel started by taking careful measurements with callipers and transferred them to the paper in a dark brown pastel. In doing this he made a framework on which he could place the colours.

The pastels were applied patiently and carefully, the tones and colours being built up by careful overlaying and blending. There are few straight lines in a portrait – the shapes of the features being suggested by the tones and blending one colour into another. All the time, Jamel was checking the proportions – it is easy to unintentionally change shapes whilst working.

Not all pastels are the same, even in the top makes there are differences in softness, pigments and handling. Jamel used a selection of makes to achieve the desired effects. When working from a photograph it is sometimes difficult to put in that little something which can be seen by observing the live model.

At the end of the 1 ½ hours of work Jamel Akib had produced an excellent rendition of the photograph and, during the extremely enjoyable evening, had perhaps inspired members of the audience to experiment with this delightful medium.

The 15th Members Exhibition 26-28th October 2012 at the Millbridge Rooms, Millbridge, Hertford

won by Terry Woods for 'Woodland Scene No. 2'.

The 15th Hertford Art Society Members' Show opened on 26th October 2012 for three days in the Millbridge Rooms in Hertford. Sixty artists took part with over 100 framed artworks and pieces of 3D work and also unframed work and artists' greeting cards.

The primary purpose of this show, started 15 years ago by Enid Fairhead, is to offer Members of the Art Society an opportunity to exhibit their work without the constraints of its big brother Open Exhibition held in May each year. In this it was a great success, with a broad variety and high standard of work which would be the envy of many art societies and a most enjoyable Members' party on the Friday evening where Members could meet socially.

JOHN GODDEN AWARD - for Members' Choice
won by Sharon Wright for 'Sixteen'.

The awards this year went to:

  • John Godden Annual Award - Members’ choice: Sharon Wright - Sixteen - Portrait in oils.
  • May Bennett Annual Award for the Best Still Life - Janet Benge - Dishy
  • Visitors’ Choice Award - Terry Wood - Woodland Scene No. 2
  • Mark Ely Award (most innovative/intriguing artwork) - Broken Glass - a digital image printed on metal by Caryl Beach who receives website design time and support from Mark Ely, of SG7.biz, designer of the Hertford Art Society website.

MAY BENNETT AWARD - for the Best Still Life
won by Janet Benge for ‘Dishy’.

The number of votes cast for the Visitors’ Choice Award indicated that the Show attracted hundreds of visitors. Sadly, sales of framed works were very disappointing this year although the cold dull weather and current economic climate could have played a part in this. This was offset however by sales of unframed works and greetings cards comparable with previous years. Members will consider how to better publicise this event in future to improve footfall, possibly by altering the date to coincide with another Hertford event such as the Farmers' Market or to September when the Hertfordshire Open Studios event takes place.

MARK ELY AWARD - for the most innovative/intriguing work.
won by Caryl Beach for 'Broken Glass'.

Thanks go to the Members of the society who put in all the hard work before, during and after the exhibition. It is very pleasing to see how many Members are willing to play a part in their exhibition which has become a colourful feature in Hertford’s calendar.