Artists in transparency. Glass artist Neil Croucher and watercolourist Graham Hadlow are exhibiting together in Tenby throughout October. Both work with difficult mediums, balancing transparency and opacity to achieve their desired effect and will show their latest work.
Graham Hadlow is well known in the area as a former Head of Art at Greenhill (his life story was featured Pembrokeshire Life magazine in 2013 for those who want more details). He is a frequent exhibitor in solo and joint exhibitions locally, a supporter of art clubs and charitable organisation’s exhibitions and a teacher of regular classes and workshop groups. He introduces adults to the difficult and demanding medium of watercolour, demonstrating how transparent coloured washes can be applied to paper to achieve realistic, believable renditions of landscapes, skies and water. He works with an enviable practised ease but generously shares his tried and tested tips to encourage and aid his learners.
His own skilful paintings, relying on accurate drawing and judicious editing of the extraneous, as well as application of paint, depict the area in which he lives. This exhibition features 40 fresh new paintings, including the busy coastal towns and harbours of South Pembrokeshire, the quieter estuaries, lonely beaches beloved by bass fishermen and rivers, ancient castles of Carew, Manorbier and Carreg Cennen and the varied landscape of Pembrokeshire in all weathers, to delight his many admirers.
Neil Croucher first remembers looking at stained glass as a school pupil in Droitwich where he was brought up - then having no idea of his future career. His education ended at 16, still with no obvious path ahead but later his casual work on canal clearance and repair led him to helping a friend revamping an old cottage then assisting him in his glass studio. Gradually Neil became involved in all aspects of glass making. “It was like an old-fashioned apprenticeship for 3 years,” he said. “I watched and learned, ending up assisting with work on the stained glass of Hereford Cathedral.” This determined his career and his application for his Masters degree in Glass at Swansea along with a teaching qualification.
Teaching in adult education followed with a parallel career as self-employed glass artist showing stained and fused glass and taking commissions. In 2004 Neil was offered his first solo exhibition at Colby Gardens gallery. Over the years he has occupied many premises locally and currently his work can be seen with the Newport Artist Collective in the north of the county and in the White Lion Street Gallery in Tenby.
He uses plain American sheet glass and sources antique Polish glass filled with flaws and inconsistencies that make it ideal for stained glass work. He makes his own recipes for paints to create different glass finishes. Fused glass involves adding crushed glass of different grades and other materials like wire or small metallic elements to plain glass then fusing them in the kiln. Glass can be softened with heat and curved by gravity, retain its transparency or be made opaque by colour or texture: it’s this versatility and malleability of glass that excites Neil. He enjoys the challenge of achieving a new design, texture or shape. In the exhibition will be original stained glass panels in contemporary and traditional designs, fused glass in framed panels or free standing, sculptures, bowls, plates and jewelry.
Commissioned work has led Neil into many people’s houses and churches to restore or instal new stained glass – as panels, windows or doors. On Caldey he restored St David’s church windows, originally created in the 1920s. He restored the many damaged windows of the old ‘Silent World’ aquarium in Tenby, once a chapel now a private house. A future commission is at St John’s church in Templeton where10 windows are to be removed, taken apart and restored. He is happy to discuss commissions with potential customers.
Neil and Graham will be in the gallery on Saturday 3rd October and everyone and anyone is invited to come and meet them. The exhibition runs from 1st to 28th October, daily except Wednesday from 10am to 5pm at the White Lion Street Gallery in Tenby. It can be viewed on the gallery website: www.artmatters.org.uk.