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Hertford Arts Trail: a month of art

PUBLISHED: 09:03 03 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:38 21 April 2017

Gillian Mackenna in her studio

Gillian Mackenna in her studio

Gillian Mackenna

Hertford Arts Trail, part of Hertford Arts Festival, showcases a wide variety of artists in the area in unlikely venues. Sandra Smith spoke to four exhibitors about what inspires their work

Century Glenn, Amy Pettingill Century Glenn, Amy Pettingill

In a month-long celebration, Hertford Arts Trail is again showcasing pop-up exhibitions, street performances and a craft market at often unusual venues throughout the town. Now in its fourth year, between April 7 and May 7, many free events at everything from beauty salons to care homes offer opportunities to meet local artists and view and buy their pieces.

Amy Pettingill

Amy’s vibrant acrylic abstracts are influenced by two seemingly disparate sources. Firstly, there’s Kandinsky. After writing an essay about the artist credited with the first pure abstract paintings at university she says his combination of music and colour ‘clicked’ with her. Yet her work is equally influenced by years of working in the more controlled and commercial world of graphic design.

Buckingham Palace by Amy Pettingill Buckingham Palace by Amy Pettingill

‘I try to make something look like what I want, but floral and abstract too,’ she says. ‘I adapt an image into something decorative. I like dots and lines and add semi- circles.

‘I kind of have a rough sketch of everything I do, particularly commissions. My work is quite commercial but I am aware that my style is evolving. I’ve just started doing peacocks – I don’t know where that came from! I don’t necessarily know how a painting will turn out colour-wise but I am very purple!’

Amy is taking part in a Meet the Artist event at Hertford Tourist Office from 2.30pm on Saturday, April 8, where she is also exhibiting.

Oval mirror, Amanda Green Oval mirror, Amanda Green

Amanda German

Doing up her new home led Amanda German to fall in love with William Morris. When she moved house, the iconic Victorian Arts and Crafts designer became the springboard for an artistic expression previously uncharted.

‘I was renovating a house, something I’d always wanted to do,’ she explains. ‘Some stained glass windows were broken so I did a course and repaired them myself.’

Drawing on the work of Morris, this led to a passion for glass painting - and a new career.

Tit, Amanda Green Tit, Amanda Green

‘I love William Morris designs and take a great deal of inspiration from him, using a lot of flowers and birds in my work.’

After sketching her subject, Amanda cuts one metre square pieces of glass to the required size. Enamel paint, mixed with water or oil, is then applied layer by layer with the glass fired in her kiln after each process.

Examples of this artist’s creations will be displayed at Bentley House Care and Nursing Home, where you can also enjoy homemade cakes and tea. Very civilised.

Ellie, Deana Kim Page Ellie, Deana Kim Page

Deana Kim Page

For Deana Kim Page a sales background contributes to a unique perspective which influences her second career as a commission artist.

‘Like my first job, it’s about others rather than myself. I provide a service, finding out what people want and delivering it.’

Currently inspired by Klimt’s rich metallic collages, Deana’s collections embrace love and passion, animals and even Folly Island cottages. A dedicated room at home – messy and stocked with good daylight bulbs – becomes a hub of creativity whenever an idea ‘touches her soul’.

‘My tools are anything I can get my hands on. I shy away from people who say you need something special. You are your basic materials. And art isn’t just for the elite. It’s important to get art into the community, that’s what it’s all about, making art accessible.’

Deana’s first Hertford Arts Trail exhibition is at the Beauty Room on St Andrew Street.

Gillian MacKenna

Growing up in Kenya instilled in Gillian MacKenna a love of the landscape, which continues to inform her work. Not for her bright, brash colours. Rather, her acrylics transport the onlooker to a terrain dominated by muted tones and vast open spaces.

‘Kenya is a beautiful country. I’ve always had a love of place and remember how thrilled I was when flying across semi-desert areas. It’s marvellous when there’s nothing around, and I try to express that feeling through my paintings.’

After moving to England at the age of 27, Gillian studied Art A Level before embarking on an Arts Foundation Course and then a Fine Arts Degree. Since then she has become increasingly addicted to her work, she says.

The people at Harwood Holmes Interiors are similarly passionate about her style, having commissioned her to create artwork for large, modern homes in London. They are proud to showcase Gillian’s work during this year’s arts trail at their St Andrews Street store.

Hertford Arts Festival diary dates

Hertford Arts - Festival launch (April 7, 6pm)

Exclusive charity event at Hertford Castle, previewing work by 
HAT artists.

April 8–May 7

Hertford Arts Trail features more than 25 pop-up exhibitions 
around the town.

Street Art Festival (April 22, 10am)

Music, performers and dancers on the streets of Hertford town centre.

Hertford Castle Craft Market & Open Day (May 7, midday)

Craft stands exhibiting homemade produce including handmade items from jewellery to clothing.

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