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The Art of Clifton Powell

July 20, 2017

A few words about the latest art we have on our walls.


We are not a fine art gallery. I have no real art education, and spent the first half of my working life with my hands covered in clay and glaze, putting patterns on pots and waiting anxiously for the kiln to cool. I learned a useful lesson when I felt disappointment at the brand new pieces I held with thick gloves to keep the heat at bay. After leaving them for a few days, I would go back and see them afresh. My expectation of how they should look had abated, and I saw them for what they were - and often they were better than I had first thought. So first impressions can be deceiving...but I digress.

We do sell paintings but our focus is on craft - handmade jewellery, ceramics, glass and wood. These are the things I feel confident about choosing. With paintings I am on trickier ground. A few months ago I got an email asking if I would have a look at work by a local artist. This happens a lot! So I went with no expectations. What I found blew me away. 

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This is not what you expect to find when you visit an artist living next to a farm in rural Wiltshire. This to me is a painting with a radical message, a hypnotic image, and a masterful composition. The eye is drawn to the masked figure in the centre, but then travels along the faces of the line of police. Each one adds a silent voice. A glare here and there. Some stare at what we cannot see behind us, and as you look further into what seemed darkness you find another line of police behind, and you wonder what lies beyond them in the receeding street. The balance between the  nervous, stalwart and perhaps angry police and the calm central figure holds the whole image in a moment of frozen tension. So, I put my head above the parapet, and declare that I think this is real art - challenging, bold and beautiful. If ever there was an image relevant to our current times, this is it.

But the amazing thing is, now have a look at this, also by Clifton. A painting of Pewsey Wharf.

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This is a slice of absolute tranquility, totally different in feel to the one above. What you cannot see on a computer or phone screen is the exquisite brushwork that has gone into creating the shimmering reflections of the trees in the water. The canal recedes as flat as glass into the distance, and the peace and tranquility is palpable. And the last picture I will mention is the one below. I think portaiture is one of the most difficult aspects of painting. There is nowhere for the painter to hide. To me this is a brilliant work. A man at rest, weary and hot - one can almost read his whole life in the atmosphere that is conveyed. Again the little image here does no justice to the actual painting.

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So Clifton is a man of extremely varied talents. He also makes music by the way. There is a little biographical information about him with each of his works in the paintings section of the website. He is a charming and outrageously talented man and if you get a chance, do come and see his work in the flesh.