Welcome to our all-too-infrequently updated little blog about goings on at Art Van Go - art suppliers to the stars.

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

An Invitation!

Sorry it's been a while. The "Blogging Dept" of AVG have been travelling the world - but I'm back now and would like to invite you to the Private View of Ruth Issett's AWASH WITH COLOUR exhibition at the Studios on Friday 12th November, from 7.30pm to 9.30pm.   We really hope to see you all there.

Oh, and I promise not to bore you with my holiday photos.

Saturday, 4 September 2010


I called into the shop today to see the Made at Art Van Go exhibition - it looks fabulous, the standard is really high and the work is really varied.  If you are anywhere near AVG you really should try and go along to see it for yourself.  The exhibition runs until Saturday 25th September.

My other reason for visiting the Studio today was to see popular AVG tutor Pauline Verrinder, who was on hand to give visitors to the gallery the benefit of her advice and expertise in creative embroidery.  She was working on a cutwork vessel when I arrived and had produced some beautiful pieces of jewellery.
There was also an example of the kind of hanging that you will be able to create on  one of Pauline's forthcoming workshops - date to be arranged.  

Oh, and Pauline has her own website now, so don't forget to visit - www.paulineverrinder.com

Whilst I'm mentioning forthcoming workshops, Frances Pickering is tutoring at a three day workshop from Tues 19th October to Thurs 21st October.  Students will create a fabric book, with gesso and fabric paint, with machine and hand stitching.  This workshop will coincide with a major exhibition of work by Frances Pickering in the gallery, featuring artwork from her book "Page After Page"  Her exhibition runs from Wed 13th October until Saturday 6th November.
Everyone who has ever attended a workshop with Frances can't wait for the next one - so book now to avoid disappointment!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Workshops and Drop-Ins

While I was wandering around trying (unsuccessfully) not to spend money at the Bead Fair on Sunday, I bumped into Sarah Lamb, who you may be aware of as the creator of some of the beautiful jewellery  on  display in the gallery.  Sarah told me that apparently there are still a few spaces on her Creative Metal Clay workshop on Friday 17th September.  If you have some basic knowledge of silver metal clay, or have been on one of Sarah's introductory sessions - this is the perfect workshop for you, to help you develop your skills and creative ideas.  Sarah told me that she intends to introduce colour into the pieces you  will create, by incorporating some of her dichroic glass beads.  Here's a photograph to show you an example......

and to see more of Sarah's work - visit her website or, of course, you could just call into the gallery - maybe while you're visiting the current MADE AT ART VAN GO exhibition.

Also, a quick reminder of the Drop In session with Pauline Verrinder this coming Saturday.  No need to book - just turn up, we may even make you a cup of tea!

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Don't forget the exhibition!

I've done mine - have you done yours??
Yes, I've completed my submission form for the Made at Art Van Go exhibition, which is to be held from 31st August until 25th September.  Applications need to be in by Friday 13th August - so  visit the AVG website and download your form.  The only criteria is that you've been on an AVG workshop and the work submitted reflects this.  It can be from a single workshop, or inspired by a combination of workshops.  
You can drop your completed form into the Studios, or you can send it by post or email.

I decided to drop my form into the shop, so I got to see the 'impromptu' exhibition on at the moment from local artist Sue Pegg.
Handmade papers form the base of many of the pieces, which take the form of layered surfaces, using wax and plaster to seal and submerge text and imagery.
You should all have received your workshop programme by now - and there are some exciting ones coming up.  In the near future, there are still some spaces on Dionne Swift's "Developing Devore" two day class on 25th and 26th August.  You may have seen Dionne at "Art in Action" - her work there has prompted a number of people to come along to learn the basics of devore, moving on to during the two days to explore all of it's possibilities.  (And as a bonus, most of the materials are provided - so a very limited 'requirements list' if you come along to this workshop).

Also, one or two spaces left on Jill Flowers workshop on Friday 27th to 'Make a Brooch in a Day' using papers and stitch.  I saw Jill's work at the last Knitting and Stitching Show - it was very impressive and having chatted to her, I just know you'll have a brilliant day at her workshop.

Another date for your diary (it's in mine!) is the Pauline Verrinder "Drop In" day on Saturday 4th September.
(Not sure if Pauline will thank me for the photo!  She was wearing the snazzy headgear for Textiles in Focus)

Pauline will be demonstrating and offering her expertise during the day, and there will be machines available for you to try your hand at machine embroidery.  We have classes coming up later in the year with Pauline, so this is a great opportunity to come along and meet her.  There is no charge for this session, and no need to book.

I think I mentioned that I called into the shop on  Wednesday.  Viv managed to grab five minutes for a cuppa and a chat in the garden - which was looking lovelier than my previous photos as Viv had spent the weekend planting.  (I expect Kevin was asleep in a deckchair)  Anyway, when we came back inside, Kevin had unearthed this ...............
It's Viv in her 'Sheena Easton' days in case you didn't recognise her.  She said "Oh that's good, I wanted some memorabilia for the Made At AVG exhibition".  I said I didn't think anyone would remember that far back.

It's a wonder I've got any friends.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Let the Ground Force Be With You

Do you remember the redundant space outside at the back of the studio?  Well, it's been transformed.  First of all Kevin (AVG's small-but-perfectly-formed answer to Tommy Walsh) pruned and chopped and dug and cleared.  And planned.  Here we are at the planning stage ...........
Then, after several weeks hard graft by the lovely guys from Cutting Edge 
  it now looks like this.....

How about that for a transformation!!  (Now, if we can just stop Viv from dumping piles of paper out there...)
So now, when you're at a workshop, and its a sunny day, you can sit outside for lunch.  Well, I suppose it doesn't matter if it's not sunny - we have a canopy!

There was to be a grand garden opening, but due to sad family events, this didn't take place as planned, but there are now plans for a little garden party during the time that the  'Made At Art Van Go' exhibition is on, from Tues Aug 31st to Sat Sept 25th.  Invites will go out to all exhibitors, so if that's not a good enough reason to submit some work into the exhibition, what is?  You ARE going to submit work, aren't you?

Talking of exhibitions, a quick update on the current exhibition, which runs until 7th August, the Stanley Andrews Retrospective.  So far, almost £5,000 has been raised for The Prostrate Cancer Charity, and The Paul Strickland Scanner Centre, Mount Vernon.  This money was raised from sales of Stanley's work, and from a raffle drawn at the Private View held in the gallery on Friday 16th July.  It was a lovely gathering of family, friends and collectors of Stanley's work.  The prize - one of Stanley's watercolours - was won by an absolutely delighted Aileen Lawrence - a good friend of Stanley and Cindy Andrews, and a wonderful watercolour artist herself, whose work we regularly show in the gallery.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

New Workshop Programme

Just to let you know, the new workshop programme is winging it's way out to all the names on the mailing list. 

 There are some really exciting workshops coming up as part of our 21st birthday celebrations, so if you can't wait for the programme to arrive, you can always look here on the website.
As you know, some workshops get filled really quickly, so don't miss out, we are standing poised, pen in hand,  just waiting for your call!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Gina's Razzle Dazzle workshop on Thursday

This Thursday, we had another fabulous Razzle Dazzle Machine Embroidery workshop, with one of our ever-popular tutors, Gina Ferrari.   To see the fantastic work that the students produced, take a look at Gina's own blog, Fan My Flame
Gina will be tutoring more workshops at Art Van Go this year on 16th September and 28th October, and again next year on 9th February and 30th March. Come along and be inspired.

Monday, 5 July 2010

New Exhibition

If you are visiting Art Van Go in the the next couple of weeks, don't forget to call into the Gallery, to see the new exhibition. It opens tomorrow and goes on until 26th July.

In fact, maybe you should pay a visit to the studios, even if you weren't planning to.  All proceeds from the sale of paintings will be going to The Prostate Cancer Charity, and the Paul Strickland Scanner Centre at Mount Vernon Hospital, both very worthy causes.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

A Tribute to Phil

Those of you who are regular visitors to Art Van Go studios, will already know of the sudden and  unexpected death in March of this year, of Viv's dad, Phil Arthur.  We felt that it was only right to pay tribute to Phil, as he had such a great 'supporting role' in Art Van Go.
The following tribute was read by Viv at Phil's funeral -

My Dad was a big man - maybe hard to believe for those who only knew him in the last few years -but he was!  He was strong with a strong handshake that was there right to the end.
His hands looked strong - Mam says it was one of the first things that attracted her to him - but he could be so gentle.  As small children we can remember Dad gently stroking away the pain, or soothing us to sleep.

Dad was away for several months at a time during our early years but he would return with presents from his travels.  As a marine engineer he was involved with the sea and ships all his life.  After serving in the merchant navy during the war, part of it transporting aviation fuel around the Mediterranean, he became one of the youngest Chief Engineers of his time.  We also know that Dad was involved in ground-breaking projects like the transportation of liquid gas by sea on the Methane Pioneer in 1959, and later on the Methane Princess, but the times he loved to talk about most was of early voyages to sea up and down the China coast on a little ship called the Volcella.

This small steamship - the engine room was apparently so small "they had to have condensed milk in their tea" - it's Chinese crew and the adventures he had (most of which we could only guess at) - probably gave Dad his love for all things Asian and Oriental.  He loved Chinese, Japanese and Indian food long before these sort of restaurants were common in Britain and he taught himself to cook using individual spices and lots of garlic.  Our friends reckoned they could smell our house long before they reached our front door.

Dad was an engineer through and through.  If it had a motor or an engine he could repair it.  We had a fridge, bought second-hand in the States and shipped across in the fifties and thanks to Dad's determination was still going strong 40 odd years later!

As an engineer it was always function over aesthetics.  If Dad could repair it what did it matter what it looked like, and he certainly wasn't going to buy a new one!  Almost anything could be held together with enough carpet-tape or lashed with plenty of string.  He took the same approach to personal first-aid.  Using anything to hand whenever he drew blood from the slip of a knife, screw-driver or hammer, he was rarely seen without carpet tape or string and rag dressings.

Dad was always there for us.  He helped so much with Art Van Go, even though he did think it was a madcap idea of mine that wouldn't last.  He would help with the van, and together with Mam would travel to different parts of the country helping to build and set up stands at shows.  Even in the last few weeks he has been bottling, packing and cutting products for us.  Whenever we were feeling overwhelmed with work Mad and Dad would be there, like the cavalry coming to the rescue to help out.  This is the 21st Anniversary year for Art Van Go and I know he would have loved to be part of the planned celebrations.

My memories are full of noise - that could be fiery arguments between me and Dad - but mainly of laughter!  Dad could so easily be brought to tears with laughter, either because of a story he was trying to relay or a joke he was trying to tell.  He rarely got to the punch line without having to struggle.  In truth he really only knew about 3 jokes - all shaggy-dog stories that have now become part of family folk-lore - but we would always end up in agonies of laughter because it was all in the telling!

Dad loved cartoons, especially Tom and Jerry;  he loved Shirley Bassey; he had a love-hate relationship with golf; he loved good food and good whisky and sharing the craic over a couple of pints, and we know he loved us!

Dad was very careful with money, and he was stubborn, but he was also silly, funny and loving.  He loved life.
My Dad is a big man - I am proud and I love him! " 

      *   *   *   *   *

I'm sure you'll agree that was a fine tribute, to a fine man.

Phil had always been so fit and healthy, but in recent years had suffered from heart trouble - angina, and a heart attack resulted in him having a triple by pass - but he came through the operation with flying colours, and appeared to have a second lease of life.  His breathlessness had gone - he had bags more energy and was able to walk further.  So it was with great enthusiasm that he and Joan, Viv's Mum,  moved from Orpington to their new home in Knebworth.  The family were looking forward to spending more time together,  and made lots of plans for the future, but sadly this was not to be.

Phil was supportive of, and involved in, Art Van Go from the time it started, and in fact it was a loan from Phil that enabled Viv to get the business off the ground.  And he continued to be totally supportive until the end.

(Incidentally, the photo of Phil, on the Order of Service above, was taken by Kevin in 1989, the year that Art Van Go began.)

Speaking as someone who worked at Art Van Go, I could see that as much as Viv was proud of her Dad, it was clear that he was immensely proud of Viv, and of what she and Kevin have achieved over the last 21 years - so maybe Art Van Go was not such a hare-brained scheme after all!
Personally, I will remember Phil as a kind, hardworking and witty man, who never refused a cup of tea, and had the most wonderfully infectious chuckle. 

Finally, as Viv said in her tribute to him, in the late 1950's, Phil was part of the Technical team which brought about the ground breaking development of transporting liquid gas by sea, in "Methane Pioneer" - a ship that had to be converted for the purpose and later, the Methane Princess.  It's a bit of a long shot, but Viv would love to know more about it, but a search of the internet has so far been fairly fruitless, other than the technical aspects of it.  We're just hoping that someone out there, who had some connection with the ship, or the project, or knows of someone who was, reads this and gets in touch. 

Rest in Peace Phil.


Friday, 11 June 2010

Exhibition News

This is a quick update to let you know about the current exhibition in the Gallery "Personal Statements" from Alysn Midgelow-Marsden, which runs until 3rd July .....

Alysn works primarily in copper, and pewter metal shims and woven metal fabrics of bronze, stainless steel, brass and copper; often altering the original surface by burnishing, texturing, printing, patterning and patinating, before moving on to stitch, twist, knot, pleat and otherwise manipulate the metal.  
Try and get along to see the exhibition, and you are sure to be inspired to sign up for Alysn's forthcoming two day workshop on Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd July entitled "Revealing and Concealing".  Students will create collages using image transfer and manipulation techniques, before moving on to use distressing glazing, bonding, simple stitching techniques and incorporating metals, which will result in a surface which conveys a personal meesage.

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Textiles in Focus at Cottenham

As you know, Art Van Go was at Textile in Focus at Cottenham again this year.  It was, as always, a fantastic event organised by Pauline Verrinder and her team, with a brilliant workshop programme, many and varied traders and great exhibitions to look at and admire.  For those that weren't able to get there, here is just a very small representation of some of the work on view.
(Apologies for the standard of photography - I'm not a professional like Kevin, just an enthusiastic stitcher with a digital camera - and not much technique!)
Firstly a small sample of the work from MESCH - a group comprising of artists Marian Murphy, Liz Evans, Margaret Starr,Vanda Campbell and Mavis Howard ....

and, to see more of their work, MESCH are holding an exhibition at -
8 High Street Meldreth, Cambs SG88JU
1st April - 3rd May 2010
Wed to Sun 10am - 4pm (closed 1pm - 1.30pm)

Next is work from the Fen Edge Textile Group, formed in 2002, and currently with sixteen members who  are fortunate to have Pauline Verrinder as their Mentor/Co-ordinator.

Fen Edge Textile will be exhibiting at the gallery in Malden from 8th September to 10th October 2010 - see their website fenedgetextiles for more information

And finally, some photos of the work of textile artist, author and the guest speaker at Textile in Focus, Isobel Hall.....

Check out our workshop programme - a number of the artists in the above mentioned exhibitions, including Marian Murphy, Vanda Campbell and Pauline Verrinder are coming to Art Van Go to take exciting workshops for us in the near future.

And finally not only a huge thank you to Pauline and her team for Textiles in Focus, but also a big congratulations - the Tombola in aid of Multiple Sclerosis raised an amazing £708 which will all go to the charity.  Well done!