Ruth Lock’s Shell Gallery works recognised by overseas judge
There is an awe-inspiring little museum in Komani with small and exquisite artworks and large paintings made only of sea shells, which some people may not be aware of.
Recently, talking in a work environment, it was evident that many residents do not know the Shell Gallery exists.
It is located at 1 Lamont Street in Westbourne. You do need to call before visiting to check if someone is there, though.
To say that Ruth Lock, who created the Shell Gallery, was a feisty old lady, is true.
She was born in 1906 at the house which is now the museum, and died in 1994.
She never married and was dedicated to making her wonderful shell creations over the years.
The first of the three galleries is filled with an array of sculptures, made almost entirely of sea shells.
Look out for the crab band scene. Even the piano has the correct number of keys.
Lock used tiny elements of shells, skilfully employing their textures and colours to create exquisite pieces.
She also had a quirky sense of humour, noted in how every character in the crab band, no matter how big or small, is wearing a pair of shoes.
A donkey’s jaw bone, found on the roadside, makes up the ski slope of another scene.
The second gallery houses, at first glance, what look like paintings, but are actually pictures made from shells.
Taking centre stage is a large vase of flowers dead centre on the far wall. If you know flowers you can easily identify different ones, which is incredible.
There are white daisies, tall blue lupins and delphiniums, different kinds of orange chrysanthemums and little red carnations.
It is proudly said that in 1992 a tourist from America visiting the Shell Gallery and offered Lock R1m for the picture. Lock declined.
The third gallery houses a huge array of Lock’s multimedia work. Her miniatures are stunning, all made of tiny shells.
On seeing the miniature shell pictures, an overseas visitor who was a judge of miniature art, said Lock’s stunning works would have won outright in her competitions.
Lock also did superb embroidery. Her trademark dairy pattern in primary colours decorates the house.
There is a quaint section of “found objects” at a dump that she washed and painted beautifully. Another area has jewellery that she found at beaches.
Lock also had a go at making her own brand of Delft China with Reckett’s Blue . . . so many things to stop and gaze at, so much work and so much beauty.
If it has been a while since you visited the Shell Gallery, make time to explore it again.
Entry is free, but donations are welcomed.
If you are grandparents, it is certainly worth a visit with primary school-aged grandchildren, and any creative youngsters.
The Shell Art Gallery is open Mondays to Fridays from 2 to 7pm, and on Saturdays from 8.30am to 1pm.
Please phone 073-189-0512 before you go to make sure it is open.