Billericay Art Trail 2017

Article by Kelly Buckley: Virtual reality 3D painting, a children's photography competition, a portrait artist of the year competition and a visit from a New Orleans style brass band... this is just a brief smattering of some of the events going on in Billericay over the next couple of weeks, during its annual art trail.

It all kicks off this Saturday, September 9 until September 23, mainly along the High Street and a couple of turn-offs, and comes as part of the Essex Summer of Art programme which is on until October (a partnership project between Essex County Council, Firstsite, Visit Essex participating District, Borough and Unitary Councils and the many and varied art trails).

Aside from the aforementioned events, a number of painters, photographers, glass-makers, ceramicists and so on - 50 at last count - will be displaying their art work in traditional art trail style, about 30 venues in the High Street, in which the public can wander around at their leisure, taking in the exhibitions.

"It's a real community event, with a mixture of professionals and amateurs taking part in the trail itself, with all ages involved"

Said Adam Adshead, the Chairman of the Billericay Art Trail, who organises the trail with his wife Jo ("it’s my wife who has done the bulk of the detailed organisation" he adds).

"We have a 13 year old called Teddy Wade displaying his work up to someone who is almost 80, called Gwynn Watt."

Teddy, by the way is a keen portrait and caricaturist, who particularly likes to depict the faces of famous people, in pen and pencil, while Gwynn, who came to art late in life when she did a year’s painting course with the Open College of Art in 1992, and went on to paint in acrylics with some work in ink and pencil.

Also among the artistic talent is Aden Hynes, a bit of a face on the local and international art scene, thanks to his credentials. He was the man behind the two facing 7.5 metre heads used on Pink Floyd’s Division Bell album cover, a giant Angry Birds' egg and nest sculpted as a red carpet feature at the Angry Birds Movie promo event in Cannes, a 4 metre tall carving of the BAFTA mask made for the 2006 BAFTA Award Ceremony and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Space Pod, to name but a few things.

At the Billericay Art Trail, Aden's sculptures will be on show in the garden of the Cater Museum, which is accessed directly through the museum at 74 High Street. Opening times can be found out via catermuseum.co.uk.

Just a little way down the road, at the St Mary Magdalen Church in the High Street, will be the work of interesting fine artist Aimée Nicholls, who has just completed her second year at university.

The pieces she is showing are based on a "reflection of social media pressures and of self-imprisonment". Pictured, is her striking acrylic painting Scream.

Photography will also feature in a few guises throughout the trail, not least as a breathtaking collection by Simon Hirst.

Simon debuted on the art trail last year. It is said he has grown from being an amateur who "hardly dared take his holiday photo albums out to show others" to taking his first steps to becoming professional.

Since last year’s Trail he has been commissioned to take a series of images for the Property Specialists on Billericay High Street and has been approached by individuals to provide prints for their domestic needs too.

"There is really so much happening," added Adam,

"there are 'try it and see' sessions which include pottery, Tiffany stained glass making, quill making which is a dying craft... I mean some people might not even know what a quill is, so what a great opportunity! And it's all free, with perhaps with the exception of a small charge being made if someone needs to fire a piece of pottery up in the kiln. Infant age children are invited to take part in the art trail with an I Spy event, where they can answer questions after looking at pictures in selected High Street venues. On Saturday September 16, ten people will be competing for the title, Billericay Portrait Artist of the Year. They’ll be painting one of two sitters representing two different professions. You’ll be able to see the artists at work, and watch as their paintings develop. Over a four hour period, each artist will create their own portrait using their own choice of medium and techniques to capture the image. Not only will the winner get the prestigious title but they’ll be competing for a cash prize of £200, with the runner up getting £50. The 3D Virtual Reality painting event, is really something modern to try to get your head around. People can have a go at wearing the mask and doing some virtual reality painting, while others can view it on the screen. "You can see, there really is something here for everyone."

Find out more in details and download a brochure, at billericayarttrail.org

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