Cruel and Curious, the concept and vision of Cai Waggett of Hickory Nines, and lucky for me just up the road has just had it’s third show, ‘Hinterland’. Held in the barns at Stowe Barton, a medieval farmstead owned by the National Trust adds an instant air of mystery, but it is more about the camaraderie; a band of people that together with the artists have created such a special event that is more about experience and atmosphere than a selling or commercial stage.
It’s beauty lies in the undiscovered; the knowledge that there is so much more; and that the depth of creativity is bottomless. The show held over two days at the end of September has had exposure but remains a somewhat elusive event that you have stumbled across and feels very special and almost humbling.
The huge walls and lofty barns give shelter from the Atlantic coast; the smell of rum fuelled coffee, music and the magic of film projected onto the old stone walls makes for a laid back unpretentious atmosphere as artists mix with friends, family and make new acquaintances, bringing their own unique take on the theme in individual spaces side by side.
On a personal level, the artistic journey with cruel and curious over the past three years has been influencial to say the least. It has been a time of experimentation, fresh materials and endless ideas with enthusiasm that knows no end.
The first year was about finding my feet with a mix of paintings and 3D work using mermaid purses in light boxes. Last year still going with the sea theme, ideas were driven by the huge Altantic storms of the winter which gave me endless pieces of driftwood including broken beach huts and loose pieces of ancient petrified forest that I mixed with resins and painted over.
This year the theme of Hinterland, with the valleys, the trees, impressions of the land behind inspired a direction of total contrast and I used aluminium panels to apply paint. The image of a caravan overgrown in a hedge sparked the idea of ‘Home’.
Most of my work is focused on the coast. It’s where I’m drawn, always to the sea, but when I go inland I love the pure feeling of nature which feels it still has the upper hand and not us, where people are living in harmony with it. This is their secret to a simple life and they do not always need to find a home in bricks and mortar.
The time of day when you feel this harmony most is at sunrise and sunset or dimity as the light fades. The wind stills and your other senses are more heightened as you are aware of smells and sounds and not just sights. Another year done, it is one of the highlights of the year and is a meeting place for some of the area’s more enlightened characters.
Next year’s theme is a secret, but lets just say I’m already planning and without wishing to wile time away, can’t wait.