Bellwood & Wright Fine Art launches exhibition highlighting young local artists

Lanty Ball, Laurence Brand, Louis Appleby, Alex Borland, Jarrad Connell and Bell Hall

Lanty Ball, Laurence Brand, Louis Appleby, Alex Borland, Jarrad Connell and Bell Hall - Credit: Archant

You don’t have to stay in London to get your art noticed, as Sue Riley discovers in Lancaster.

One of Sarah Jane Bellwood's works

One of Sarah Jane Bellwood's works - Credit: Archant

YOUNG artist Louis Appleby is already making his mark in the art world. Fresh out of art school, he’s won or been shortlisted for some of the UK’s most prestigious competitions and has sold 20 of his pictures for up to £800 each. But his plans are about much more than just his own success – he wants to bring young northern talent to the attention of the national art scene.

‘There’s lots of people making things but not many places to show it,’ says Louis. Since he’s returned north – he trained at Wimbledon School of Art – he realised most of his friends had done the same thing. So this month he’s curating an exhibition of their work in Lancaster and he hopes if it’s a success it will lead to an annual show of young northern talent and perhaps an annual art prize.

The 23-year-old won the Young Artist of the Year in the Lynn Painter-Stainers Prize beating thousands of others with his quirkily-named Planet of the Apps and one of his acrylics from his degree show is currently exhibited in the Shard in London. His studio these days is 300 miles away from London in the basement of his family home in Lancaster where he also works in his mother’s gallery, Bellwood & Wright Fine Art (the Wright is his uncle Andrew Wright) where the show is being held.

His mother Sarah Jane Bellwood is a watercolourist with a growing profile in her own right. ‘We have always bounced ideas off each other, when I went from doing really abstract work to what I am doing now she changed at the same time and she says she did it by herself but I know I influenced her!’ he laughs.

Sarah Jane says her son is bringing new ideas into the business and agrees that he influences her artwork as well. ‘We are hoping at Bellwood and Wright to get an emerging artists programme. I want Louis to learn the gallery business from the inside out. We’d like to launch Lancashire artists into the wider world,’ she says.

She said it was only when her son started mentioning art competitions that she decided they should both enter as many as possible. That led to her winning the northern prize in the National Open Art (NOA) competition and gallery representation by Panter & Hall in Mayfair.

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In March she has been invited to hold a solo show at the London gallery, featuring her delicate watercolours of birds, eggs, butterflies and often a food theme with pieces of cutlery. She has also been shortlisted in this year’s Sunday Times’ watercolour competition and both her and Louis are through to the next stage of the NOA. ‘We have been shortlisted and got through to every national competition we have entered so far so we have been encouraged by that. The NOA did wonders for my career,’ she said.

And that’s precisely what Louis hopes the Lancaster exhibition will do for his friends.

‘You do not have to live in London to do stuff anymore,’ said Ben Hall, who works part time in a local museum and shares a studio with his dad in Hutton Roof. ‘We all went quite far away to do our courses but there’s this weird draw about living in Lancaster. Everyone went so far away and then came back,’ he says. ‘I enjoy everything, I’m still learning!’ he says. He also incorporates his love of music and film-making in his paintings. For the exhibition he was planning a series of slipware vases with red, white and black decoration, although he admits that sometimes they don’t get to that stage. ‘I tried to do a barrel firing in my garden and all my pots disappeared!’

Another artist who will be featured is photographer Jarrad Connell who specialises in images of modernist architecture. For his degree show he did a series of images of multi- storey car parks, including Preston’s iconic bus station. ‘I’m interested in building where functions dictates the form,’ he said. He now hopes to work on a project looking at the remnants of the Industrial Revolution in the north. ‘It was once known as the ‘workshop of the world’ he says. Other artists taking part include Alex Borland, Lanty Ball and Laurence Brand – who were all taught by the same art teacher, Mr Bagnold at Lancaster Royal Grammar School.

Sarah Jane is excited about the show. She says she remembers when she was a child criticising the pictures her mother, an amateur painter, had created. ‘My mum apologised recently for not giving me art lessons, but it just spurred me on. I kept going until my work was better than hers!’ She’s now passing that work ethic on to her son. ‘Being an artist is hard work and Louis sees me working at 6am every day. He can’t lie in bed, he knows it’s not about the muse visiting him, I am not taking that rubbish! Ninety-nine per cent of it is producing,’ she says. And sometimes sheer hard work and talent is what turns a family into an artistic dynasty. w

The show is on at Bellwood & Wright Fine Art in Penny Street, Lancaster, from October 1 – 12.