IT’S your last chance to catch the work of illustrator Julia Ashby Smyth and wood carver Gavin Carter at the Hodgson Loom Gallery above Laxey Woollen Mills.
Their exhibition Graphite and Granite concludes on Saturday.
Julia’s work is inspired by Manx folklore and the dark recesses of her imagination, whule Gavin’s carvings are sensuously textural and tactile.
‘I am somewhat obsessed with Manx folklore and mythology,’ explained Julia, ‘Its depth and range seems to be endless and is steeped into every rock and leaf. Wherever you are on this island, you can always feel a story weaving itself around your hems. It is a constant inspiration.’
She added: ‘I try to invite the observer into not just looking, but to also peer beyond the immediate image, maybe finding some things that are slightly less obvious, the images within the image, the story within the story.’
A Ramsey Grammar School pupil, Julia went on to study a BA in Multi-disiplinary Design (Graphics) at Stoke on Trent before becoming an illustrative designer. She later returned to the island to work as studio manager for an advertising company before becoming freelance in 1989 and working on everything from stamps, logos, packaging and even the interior design of a supermarket. Her favourite medium is pencil but she also uses watercolour, pastels and even nail varnish. Private commissions have included caricatures, book illustration and tattoo designs. She has won the Singer and Friedlander Art Competition Public Vote five times. She is also the curator of the Hodgson Loom Gallery.
Meanwhile, from the north-east of England, Gavin worked in farming and forestry before gaining a BSc in Botany from Durham University and then undertaking postgraduate research in Molecular Biology.
He worked for a biotechnology company before becoming more actively involved in woodland conservation. He began turning wood which gradually developed into more sculptural work. He is especially influenced by microscopic forms found within biological systems. Texture is also important to his work and so tool marks made by chainsaws, axes or chisels are often left in a piece.
He explained: ‘I try to make art that establishes connections. Connections with natural processes, with the elements, with the environment and with the past. I tend to work with wood, mostly unseasoned green timber - itself a product of the environment and acted upon by the elements.’
He said: ‘A piece of wood contains in its own record of time in its annual rings and if you look closely enough, and you know what to look for, you can tell something of how that piece of wood developed, how the tree it came from grew and something of the conditions it endured.
‘When I work with a piece of wood I try to bring out some of this internal history, touch the wood and you can feel its story through the grain and texture of its surface.’
The exhibition is free. The gallery is open Monday to Saturday between 9am and 5pm. For more information call 861395 or visit the Hodgson Loom Gallery Facebook page.