Sidmouth artists' delight at show success

THE first exhibition staged by the founding members of Kennaway Fine Art Guild has been a great success.

THE first exhibition staged by the founding members of Kennaway Fine Art Guild has been a great success.

East Devon artists Neil Cox, Stephen Brown and Robert Crisp from the Sidmouth area, and Ray Balkwill from Seaton, formed the guild after the restoration of Kennaway House in Sidmouth.

Their four-man exhibition, showing around 70 pieces of art in three of the Regency house's rooms, finished on Sunday and, said Neil: "We have had some positive comments which reconfirms the justification there is potential for something like this.

"We are certainly looking at doing an exhibition again next September."

He added: "There is a big interest in art generally because of how many art societies there are.

"Kennaway House is a lovely building for hanging work so we saw the potential for something like this."

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He said anyone could rent exhibition space at the house and the group had an agreement with the Kennaway House Trust to maintain a 12-monthly project there.

Running a schools competition and looking at having people submit work, perhaps for a permanent display, are some ideas being considered that would be mutually beneficial to the guild and the trust.

"A lot of people have said they have been meaning to come and look around the house and some said it is the best hanging space in the South West," said Neil, whose bird and animal watercolours and oils have attracted much attention.

The guild will, after a couple of years, begin to add other artists to their list of exhibitors.

"We would like to get everything running smoothly before we bolt on other artists," said Neil.

"We all paint in a different style, which has been a big plus."

Thirteen pictures had sold by Thursday and, said Neil: "A lot of galleries would be happy to have sold what we have done."

The exhibition was not just about selling, but getting established, and more than 300 travelled from around Devon to see the artists' work.

Robert Crisp said: "I am pleased with the response, it is an unknown quantity for us and will take a while to establish."

He said he would do more local scenes for next year's exhibition "as there was quite a bit of interest in local work.