High Peak Artists group to stage exhibition of live demonstrations in Buxton

Following a successful first edition in 2022, the High Peak Artists group is returning to Buxton next month for an exhibition where visitors can watch creative practices live in action and talk to the experts as they work.

Art in the Octagon, a strand of the Buxton Festival Fringe, will see 30 local artists demonstrating their skills in the Pavilion Gardens’ Octagon Hall from Monday to Wednesday, July 10-12.

Among the group, who usually exhibit their work down the corridor at the Gallery in the Gardens, there are specialists in wood turning, jewellery making, weaving, pottery, printmaking, photography and many more who carve out their own creative niche using a variety of materials and techniques.

Pauline Townsend, a silk painter and the group’s secretary, said: “Last year was absolutely brilliant and we had really positive feedback. In fact we were nominated for best visual art show at the Fringe. It was such a success we’ve decided to make it an annual event.

“There was a real buzz about it. Because it’s free to enter, they could stroll in off the promenade and go round all the stands learning about different techniques and how we achieve finished examples. I think there’s a great appeal to people of all ages. Burbage Primary School brought a class along and they were so thrilled that they’re coming back with two classes this time.”

She added: “For us as artists, we all enjoy doing the show. It’s lovely to meet out customers. We take it turns to staff the Gallery in the Gardens, so it’s really pot luck if someone takes an interest in one of your pieces while you’re on duty.

“Members of our group like to talk to people about their work and explain what they do. There’s all sorts of really fascinating and complex things happening, and it’s nice to be able to demonstrate the how things are done.”

High Peak Artists now has 43 members, and first-timers for the Octagon show include Kate Gandolfo, an illustrator who uses oils to create colourful pictures inspired by traditional folk and medieval art, and Bel Holland, a ceramicist whose work has been flying off the shelves since first going on show in the gallery a few weeks ago.

Alongside them will be the likes of pastel landscape artist Sandra Orme, nature painter Rita Chang, textile portrait specialist Tracey Coverley, and Louise Jannetta, who dabbles in everything from tapestry to children’s illustration.

They will be joined by special guest Eric Wilson, a former member of the group still living in Buxton, who is regarded as one of Britain’s leading wildlife artists over a lifetime studying animals in the wild, from polar bears in the frozen north, to gorillas in the Congo and tigers in Nepal.

His work has been shown and sold around the world, and he has shared the secrets of his craft via in-demand courses in the UK and overseas.

Art in the Octagon will be open 1-5pm on the first day, then 10am to 5pm. For more information about the show and High Peak Artists’ work, see galleryinthegardens.co.uk.

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