Announcement: Mark Essen selected for Building as Material ll residency

Mark Essen

The Building as Material II

11 June – 26 August 2018

Artists’ Studio


To mark The New Art Gallery Walsall’s 18th birthday in 2018, the Gallery invited proposals from West Midlands-based artists in response to the theme: The Building as Material.


Mark Essen, hyperbolic hypnotic hyperbole, 2018. Commissioned for 3-Phase, a partnership between Jerwood Charitable Foundation, WORKPLACE and Eastside Projects. Photo: John Mckenzie


Following this Open Call, Birmingham-based artist Mark Essen has been selected to develop a new body of work from the Artists’ Studio, taking terracotta, a clay-based ceramic material used in the building, as his point of departure. During his residency, Mark will explore the relationship of clay to Walsall, researching local buildings and the contemporary use of clay in Walsall-made ceramics as well as the history of brick making in the area. Mark will make various brick and tile designs, inviting the public inside the studio to explore his raw materials.


Mark Essen (b. Reigate, UK) studied at Birmingham City University before completing an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2014. He was selected for Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2013 and has exhibited widely in the UK, including Workplace, Gateshead; Hauser & Wirth, Somerset; Tate St Ives, and Wysing Arts Centre, Cambridge. In 2017, Mark set up Modern Clay, a socially-engaged ceramics studio in Birmingham, which aims to remove perceived boundaries between fine and applied arts and crafts.

by Chris Wilkinson

Objects of Obsession: Bob and Roberta Smith ‘Esther’


“I find it hard to talk about the story of Esther. It’s a difficult thing”  Bob and Roberta Smith


Watch Bob and Roberta Smith fighting back the tears in his Objects of Obsession interview with the Royal Academy’s Tim Marlow about why he chose Jacob Epstein’s sculpture of his daughter Esther in the Gallery’s Garman Ryan Collection.


As part of the Royal Academy’s 250th anniversary celebrations, three Royal Academicians took part in a new series of digital talks about their chosen Objects of Obsession: works of art by another artist that have great meaning to them.


Each revelatory encounter was hosted by the gallery or museum which houses the piece and live streamed on

the venues own Facebook and YouTube pages to art fans across the globe.



Objects of Obsession is brought to you in partnership with the Royal Academy and The Space


Other talks in the series


Cornelia Parker discusses Sketch of an Idea for Crazy Jane (1855) by Richard Dadd

at Bethlem Museum of the Mind (16 February 2018)













Sonia Boyce discusses Othello, The Moor of Venice by James Northcote at

Manchester Art Gallery (8 March 2018)













by Chris Wilkinson

Local Makers’ Market 2017: Meet the Makers

We are excited to be hosting a range of talented Local Makers, Crafters & Artists at our up-coming market on December 2nd & 3rd.


Here’s a taste of what’s in store!










Original contemporary prints and drawings by Daniella Turbin. 














Handmaid Crafts:

Wirework jewellery, accessories, cards and needle felted Christmas decorations by Jill Dind.














Natalie Brooks: Artist and Roly Poly Ponies:

Needle felted sculpture, cartoon ponies and Christmas decorations.













Mike Taylor:

Handmade wooden wares by Mike Taylor: Woodland Craftsman.













Urvashi Patel Art:

Watercolour art on cards, mugs, tote bags and accessories, as well as prints and originals.













Felted home wares and accessories including brooches, pods, lamp shades and fairy lights created by Sarah Leigh.













Izzybird Bags by Elizabeth Whitehouse:

Handbags, corsages, greetings cards and ‘make your own’ kits.












Oimillie lamp work, glass and jewellery:

Lamp work beads and jewellery by Heather Pearce.












Fernandez Firecrafts:

Pyrography on wood, created by Jenny Fernandez.












Yvonne Thomas Felt Figures:

Mini felted figures. Personalised items also available by commission.






Gerry Mahoney:

Feline based graphic illustrations.


John Sheldon:

Illustrations, drawings and glass painted artworks.


Claire Taylor:

Crocheted items created by Claire Taylor.


Mums Herd:

Children’s illustration and prints by Isabelle Blewitt.





by Gemma Cornish

Inspirational Gifts for Christmas at The New Art Gallery Walsall


This Christmas visit our bright and inspiring Gallery Shop to fulfil all your festive needs.

Come and explore our wide selection of Christmas cards, perfect gifts and quirky stocking fillers.

Discover our Quentin Blake and JMW Turner inspired products and books that complement our

current Exhibitions.



Ignite someone’s creative spark with our new range of artist materials and try-it-yourself guides.

Or dig deeper into their favourite topics, with our large collection of books on Walsall’s renowned

Garman Ryan Collection, Art, Architecture and Local History.


For that truly unique gift, why not start their Art Collection this Christmas with a Limited Edition

Artist Print, specially made for the Gallery and available exclusively through the Gallery Shop.

All purchases support the Gallery.


Christmas Opening Times:

Saturday 23 December, Open

Christmas Eve Sunday 24 December – Closed

Closed Monday 25 December – Closed

Closed Tuesday 26 December – Closed

Open Wednesday 27 December – Open

Closed Monday 1 January 2018 – Closed


Normal Opening hours: Tuesday –Saturday 10am to 5pm & Sunday 12noon-4pm

by Chris Wilkinson

CANCELLED Young People’s Edition of the Makers Market

The Young People’s Edition of the Makers Market which was due to take place at The New Art Gallery Walsall

on Saturday 18 and Sunday 19 November is now CANCELLED due to unforeseen circumstances.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this may cause.

by Chris Wilkinson

Limited Edition Prints Available from The New Art Gallery Shop


Richard Long


offset lithograph in six colours

70 x 70 cm + white border

Edition of 150

Signed and numbered at the front

£295, unframed.


 Matt Collishaw      – SOLD OUT

Third Degree, 2015

lambda print

70 x 70 cm + white border

Edition of 100 + 5APs

Signed and numbered at the front

£235, unframed


Quentin Blake

The Illustration Creature, 2011

giclée print on 300g Somerset Satin paper

32.9 x 48.3 cm

Edition of 100

Signed, numbered and embossed on the front

£250, unframed


This print has been produced by House of Illustration, and is on sale for the duration of the exhibition Seven Kinds of Magic



Rachel Goodyear

Black Holes, 2017


42 x 29.7 cm

Edition of 50

Signed and numbered on the front

£250, unframed



Jonathan Wright

Star, 2017

giclée print

48 x 33 cm

Edition of 25

Signed and numbered on the front

£150, unframed


Commissioned to coincide with the current exhibition

Legacies: JMW Turner and contemporary art practice



Jonathan Wright

Empire – Tower, 2014/2017

giclée print

48 x 33 cm

Edition of 25

Signed and numbered on the front

£150, unframed


Commissioned to coincide with the current exhibition

Legacies: JMW Turner and contemporary art practice



“These images are created by projecting a beam of light across the studio work bench. The shadows are captured on a screen mounted on the end of the bench

by Chris Wilkinson

PEOPLE’S CHOICE Artwork in Focus – Autumn

Mary Fedden (1915 – 2012), Flowers in Tuscany, oil on canvas c.mid 20th century was the People’s Choice winner for the theme of Flowers and Still Life



Mary Fedden is well known as a still life painter. However, what can at first appear simple and effortless belies her skilled use of carefully considered composition, her particular choice and juxtaposition of objects and her impressive understanding of colour. What excited Fedden was the actual process of painting; her exuberant manipulation of paint is often not apparent in reproductions of her work.


Acquired for the Permanent Collection in 1960 from the Royal West of England Academy, with whom she had a lifelong association, Flowers in Tuscany is dated mid 20th century. Another painting by Fedden, Flowers on a Tiled Floor 1956,* which depicts a very similar arrangement of flowers and a mountain back drop, may provide a clue to a more exact date when the former was painted.


Fedden travelled extensively, particularly in France and Tuscany, producing many sketchbooks full of ideas, and Flowers in Tuscany probably resulted from one of these trips. Italy must have been a special place for Fedden, as it was there, in 1949 that she holidayed with a friend from the Slade School of Art (where she had studied), the artist Julian Trevelyan, following the breakdown of his marriage. It was on this trip that the pair fell in love and on their return, Fedden joined him at his home and studio in Durham Wharf, where she lived and worked for the rest of her life.


Trevelyan, who was predominantly a printmaker, had a profound effect on the development of her work, as did the artists Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Ben and Winifred Nicholson, and Christopher Wood with their use of flattened picture planes, separation of still life objects and interpretation of colour. Trevelyan, who was linked to the Surrealist movement, encouraged Fedden to flout the rules of perspective and exploit disproportion in her work; large and small objects appearing transposed in scale and often it takes on a dreamlike quality.


Flowers in Tuscany is typical of her still life studies in that it is positioned in front of a landscape, revelling in the contrast of disparate elements. In this painting Fedden experiments and pushes the boundaries of perspective; a classical urn appears in profile whereas the table top is tipped vertically towards the viewer, creating a large round shape on which to anchor the vase of flowers, echoing the circular motifs of the chair back, the curves of the vase and the blousey blooms spilling out of it. These in turn, contrast with the overlaid verticals of the chair rods, which are repeated by the gateposts in the background, linking the whole composition. The chair is more abstract shape than an accurate rendering, it is a suggestion for the viewer to complete.


For Flowers in Tuscany, Fedden has worked in oil paint on a canvas which she probably stretched and primed herself, something she used to do at this point in her painting career. Her method of working would often involve her sketching in the basic structure of a composition and building up the initial image using turpentine thinned paint, before applying numerous layers of thicker paint. The enjoyment she got from this process is evident in her energetic brushstrokes and confident handling of the paint.


The differing thicknesses of paint are clearly discernible in this work. Occasionally the canvas peeps through and the under painting is visible; thinner, almost transparent paint such as used on the chair back contrasts with the texture of the brush marks where she has laid down the undiluted oil paint. Her use of sgraffito on the ribs of the vase and red flower boldly tears through the impasto to expose the support beneath. Flowers in Tuscany is an example of her earlier more soft edged style, where the outlines of her objects are less defined, something she wished she could recapture in her later, more mature work.


The vivid Mediterranean blue colour which predominates Flowers in Tuscany evokes Southern European skies and is used throughout the painting, linking the whole composition. In contrast, the bright pink and red of the trumpet flower at the forefront of the arrangement catches the eye, inviting the viewer into the painting.

The rolling mountains in the background stand out against the deep blue sky but elements of this blue are also incorporated. The area to the right of the table shares the same colour palette as the mountains but is made distinct from them due to the change in direction and style of mark making with much shorter, vertical staccato brush strokes. There is a stillness to this right hand passage of the painting which counterbalances the busyness of the floral arrangement.


The flowers sit brazenly in their vase; a joyous celebration of the surrounding earth’s spoils, the dark centres of their elliptical vortices staring out of the picture plane. Tall skeletal seed heads provide a pathway from the foreground to the hills in the distance behind them. A further visual link is provided by the fluid loop of bright blue paint which dances across the blooms. At first it appears to be a part of the under painting, but on closer inspection it shows itself to be a later addition, painted after they were completed. A very definite statement, it sweeps across the trumpet flowers, weaving in and out of them like the after image left by a child’s sparkler.

Finally, barely perceptible, two ghostly figures stand near the open gate. The colour of the baked mountain earth, they are almost on the point of becoming part of the landscape. The woman on the left holds onto the gate, there is a tension in her arm which appears to be supporting her weight as she leans towards her companion, whose right arm encircles her waist in a subtle act of balancing. Her striped dress mirrors the gateposts next to her. They provide the only clue to who the flower gatherers and arrangers might be in a scene otherwise devoid of human presence.


Mary Fedden was a trailblazer becoming the first female tutor in the Painting School at the Royal College of Art (from 1956 to 1964), teaching a golden generation of artists including David Hockney and Patrick Caulfield, and was elected a Senior Royal Academician in 1992. During the 1960s and 70s her work was somewhat eclipsed by that of Trevelyan’s, but subsequently her reputation has justifiably grown.


Fedden’s long painting career has resulted in a large legacy of work. She painted every day, it was what she loved to do, and continued to do, right up until her death at the age of 96 in 2012. Her work could be described as a celebration of the everyday, but it is one in which she elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary.


*Christopher Andreae, Mary Fedden  Enigmas and Variations, Lund Humphries, 2007 p.52



October 2017


by Chris Wilkinson

To celebrate the release of Loving Vincent an animated feature

To celebrate the release of @LovingVincentUK – an animated feature that explores the life and controversial death of one of the world’s best loved artists, Vincent van Gogh – we have two pairs of tickets to the live satellite premiere and Q&A on Monday 9 October at the @lightwalsall. 


To enter just tell us which Van Gogh work hangs in our gallery! 


GOOD LUCK… (p.s. our website is a treasure trove of information!)



Terms and Conditions

  1. Entrants must be aged 12 and over.
  2. One entry per person. 
  3. Competition closes at 12pm on 5 October.
  4. The winner will be notified via Facebook or Twitter.
  5. There are two pairs of tickets to see Loving Vincent with Q&A at Light Cinema Walsall available to win.
  6. There is no cash or prize alternative.
  7. Transport to and from the cinema is not included.
  8. By entering into this competition you are giving permission for your entry to be used on all Loving Vincent social media platforms and associated publicity.

by Chris Wilkinson

Local Makers’ Markets – Stall Holder Applications 2017


We are looking for fantastic designer-makers and artists to apply to take part in The New Art Gallery Walsall’s 2017 Local Makers’ Markets. Celebrating the wealth of talent in the region, and offering Christmas shoppers the chance to buy something unique, the Gallery will be hosting local makers during two weekend Festive Markets this November and December.


We are looking for applications from a range of creative disciplines including, painting, sculpture, jewellery, photography, lighting, textiles, stone carving, fashion, glass and more.

If you already sell your products or are looking for the perfect opportunity to launch yourself into the creative market, we want to hear from you.


Local Makers Market

Celebrating the wealth of talent in the region and offering Christmas shoppers the chance to buy local bespoke and handmade products. Join us on Saturday for a full programme of free demonstrations by the makers.

Saturday 2 December, 11am-5pm

Sunday 3 December, 12pm-4pm


New for 2017

Local Makers Market: Young People’s Addition

Showcasing the local young creative talent

Saturday 18 November, 11am-5pm

Sunday 19 November, 12pm-4pm


How to apply for a stall:

To apply for a stall at either of the Makers Markets please download the relevant application form below:





For further information or enquiries, please contact Catherine James, or 01922 654411.



by Chris Wilkinson

Rachel Goodyear Limited Edition Prints

Rachel Goodyear’s gorgeous print lithographBlack Holes is now available exclusively in the Gallery Shop.


A limited edition of 50 with 10 Artist’s Proofs and each signed by the artist, are available to purchase for £250 (unframed). All proceeds support the Gallery’s programme.


To purchase a print, please call the Gallery reception on 01922 654400 or email:



Image credit:  Rachel Goodyear, Black Holes, lithograph, ed of 50, 10 APs, 42 x 29.7 cm, 16.5 x 11.7 in. Courtesy Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, London. Copyright the artist.

by Chris Wilkinson