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The Haven Art Group @ St. Marks Hall
Rochford Life: Edith, how long has the Haven been running now?
Edith: It came into being about five years ago. It was a group of five of us and we thought we’d start a painting group and see how it would go. Initially we thought we’d do it mostly ourselves with anyone who had an interest in painting and from there a couple more people joined us and it took off from there. It’s grown from five to between eighteen and twenty one. We’re more comfortable when there are only fifteen of us here; eighteen is a bit cramped. We’re limited by the number of tables we can have out and each artist needs a certain amount of space.
RL: Does everyone do the same thing or do you all do different things
Edith: To begin with we had a good teacher join us and we were learning the very basics from him, how to put the colours on and so on, but since then everyone has developed their own style and we have different subjects. Some are good at buildings, some are a bit freestyle. It’s amazing to see eighteen people with eighteen very different pictures. The creativity of it all is amazing, considering we are all amateurs. None of us are professionals.
RL: Looking around that the work is being done here today, these people have been around a while, haven’t they. Do you get real beginners in as well?
Edith: Oh yes, we’ve got a couple at the moment who just wandered in and said, “I can’t draw and I can’t paint.” They came in wandered around and looked at everybody else’s, picked up a book and read a bit, then we put a piece of paper in front of them and say, have a go, try it! There’s no pressure on anybody who might want to just come in to talk. At the end of the day, hopefully, they will get pen to paper
RL: Some appear to be very good, but it all seems very relaxed.
Edith: Yes, we must be doing something right because people keep coming back
RL: Do most people adopt a particular medium, such as water colour? How does it happen?
Edith: The majority is water colour. We have two who are more into using acrylics but, again, it depends on what mood takes them at the time.
RL: Have you got space for anyone else to arrive?
Edith: Yes, we’re full up but if people wander in, it tends to be like it is today with not everyone here so we can make space. We’ve never quite been at the point where we haven’t been able to sit somebody down, and so assume we will get them in.
RL: I get the impression that you’d prefer to have beginners turn up who you can help, rather than those who are already good and who are just looking for somewhere to go.
Edith: I think that’s a fair comment but we always welcome professionals from whom we can learn! That way, hopefully, it’s a nice balance. At the end of the day we want to improve.
RL: You don’t give lessons here so do any of you go to formal classes?
Edith: I believe there’s at least two of us do. We’ve had two people who have branched out and started their own art group up in Ashingdon. We’ve got one lady who goes to a class in the morning and then comes here in the afternoon because she says it is good here.
RL: You’ve recently held an exhibition in the W.I. Hall I believe
Edith: Yes, we do that on an annual basis now. Again, it’s good fun to do, the folk themselves enjoy it and we do it for charity which this year was the NSPCC.
RL: Do you do anything else?
Edith: Weather permitting we go out further afield for days out painting once a year. We’ve been up to Dedham and Constable country and the other side of Maldon and locally, Hullbridge and Canewdon.
RL: What time are you open?
Edith: We open at 1.30pm on a Tuesday afternoon each week, throughout the year.
RL: Thank you very much indeed.
Painting – did you know?
What painters painted on?
· on cave walls on rock – possibly up to 30,000 years ago,
· on plaster on house walls – possibly about 8000 years ago,
· on wet plaster – the Minoans of ancient Greece about 4000 years ago – called fresco where the paint soaked into the plaster and didn’t flake off so easily with age,
· on wood panels – from about 2500 years ago by the Greeks and Romans,
· on sheets of animal skins made into books – by the monks of about the 7th century on,
on paper – although probably invented in China about the 2nd century, it didn’t come into manufacture in Europe until about the 12th century and probably took another two centuries before it was being used by painters to make notes and sketches,
· on canvas on wooden frames – from 16th century on.
(Source: The Story of Painting by Abigail Wheatley – Usborne)
Interview with Edith Stott of the Haven Art Group (6th October 2010)
Edith heads up this art group at St. Marks Hall on Tuesday afternoons.