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The highs of Lowe’s art

PUBLISHED: 13:07 28 October 2014 | UPDATED: 13:07 28 October 2014

Crab fishing at Warbelswick, Stephen Lowe

Crab fishing at Warbelswick, Stephen Lowe

Archant

Landscape painter Stephen Lowe was as surprised as anyone when his Walkern studio became a destination gallery for leading artists. Caroline Foster reports

Stephen Lowe in the gallery holding Sea shanty by Denise AllenStephen Lowe in the gallery holding Sea shanty by Denise Allen

I’m not sure it was fate or providence,’ says artist Stephen Lowe, ‘but the gallery came about quite by chance.’

Lowe moved to Walkern in 2002, having sold his family foundry business in Hoddesdon, and bought a house with the intention of converting an outbuilding into a studio to pursue his love of painting. While he was working in the building, a passer-by called in asking if it was a gallery, and although Lowe replied it was just his own work hanging up, the person bought five of his paintings on the spot. It seemed fortuitous then that his studio should also become a space to exhibit work to the public. As fellow artists, whom Lowe knew from clubs and societies, became involved in his venture, so the Walkern Gallery became established.

The landscape painter describes it as a country gallery. It may be in a quiet village location, but it has quite clearly established itself as a contender in the county art world – more than 60 Hertfordshire-based artists have exhibited here. Karen Adams, Trevor Chamberlain and Mark Humphrey are just a few names on the list, while Carol Mountford, a former student of Lowe’s, exhibits alongside him. ‘Her work now outsells mine!’ he laughs.

A self-taught artist, Lowe does have an Art A-level, which he took later in life. And he is not afraid to turn his hand to different mediums. Starting out in oils, he moved to acrylics and recently has started to use oils again. He is also a prolific watercolourist and likes to use pastels too. His subject matter is more fixed. A fascination with water and landscape plays an important role in all of his paintings, and he is particularly interested in marine views, including harbours, beaches and other water scenes.

Walberswick Ferry, Stephen LoweWalberswick Ferry, Stephen Lowe

As well as being a prolific creator, Lowe runs courses and workshops and gives talks and demonstrations, recently to the Wheathampstead Art Group. His advice to those begining to paint is always to use good-quality materials. ‘They may be a bit more expensive, but the finished results speak for themselves. Especially when it comes to paper: good, clean paper matters.’

Walkern Gallery is part of the 2014 Hertfordshire Visual Arts Forum Open Studios programme and, as resident artist, Lowe will be demonstrating his skills and techniques and taking questions from visitors during the event, which runs until the end of September. ‘I enjoy the rapport with the public,’ he explains. ‘In this field it’s quite easy to become parochial. You need contact with other people to share ideas and for inspiration.’
For the same reason, he has been a long-time member of HVAF, was a member of the Lee Valley Art Group for a number of years, and takes part in various local art exhibitions, art society exhibitions and art trails.

In addition to the Open Studios event, each season inspires a new exhibition curated by Lowe of traditional and contemporary artworks including paintings, glassware, ceramics and sculptures in the gallery – so there’s always plenty of reasons to visit and enjoy the creations of artists from Hertfordshire and beyond.

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Blue Dream, Annelie BoonBlue Dream, Annelie Boon

VISIT WALKEN GALLERY

56 High Street, Walkern, Herts SG2 7PG

Open Thursday to Sunday 10am to 5pm

walkerngallery.com 01438 860363

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