Cre­ative days full of art, food and great craic

Middleton Guardian - - THE LAUGHING BADGER - SEAN WOOD

ONE of the best things about the Laugh­ing Badger Gallery is the peo­ple who come in, many of them on my reg­u­lar work­shops and feed­ing days.

There is al­ways some­thing go­ing on, a story to tell and, as they say at home in Ire­land, the ‘craic’ is mighty.

Fri­day morn­ings, for ex­am­ple, the place is trans­formed into a Parisian arts-type cof­fee shop where po­ets, pain­ters and pun­ters chew the fat about ev­ery­thing cre­ative.

Don’t tell them but it’s not like work, and when I’m up to my gun­nels in smoked salmon and the like, I can hear the laugh­ter from in­side the gallery and the world keeps turn­ing.

I’ve threat­ened to charge them by the minute some of them stay that long, and be­lieve it or not, no names no pack drill, but re­cently re­tired teach­ers Hil and Peter Clay­ton came in for break­fast and three hours later or­dered lunch.

If read­ers have not been be­fore, there is a free event on Fri­day, March 30, from 6pm when the paint­ings of the reg­u­lars will be on the walls, and the artists will all be there to show visi­tors around. The Cel­lar Bar will be open and there will be live mu­sic from Tom Hall of Glos­sop. I’ll even throw in LB scones, and if you’re re­ally lucky my daugh­ter Ni­amh will bake some of her leg­endary soda bread.

Ni­amh will also have some of her work on dis­play, as will the quite won­der­ful il­lus­tra­tor Chel­lie Car­roll, of Glos­sop, and you can even cast your eye my over lat­est work; a Euro­pean Bi­son in the Bialowwieska an­cient for­est in the Pol­ish far east.

There will also be some work by renowned lo­cal painter Ghis­laine Howard, Roger Needham and also some rare glimpses of Harry Ousey, whose niece Sue As­tles lives in Glos­sop.

Harry was an ab­stract painter and con­tem­po­rary of some of the greats, such as Hepworth and Nash, and at last, next month, some of his work will be on show in St Ives.

The jay seen here is the work of John Tay­lor, also of Glos­sop; John also has lots of sto­ries to tell, and in­deed songs to sing, a poet, a climber and all round good guy.

John won’t mind me telling you that his work has de­vel­oped so much in the last year of at­tend­ing the Thurs­day ses­sions, es­pe­cially be­cause of the re­laxed and encouraging at­mos­phere.

I’m not a pre­scrip­tive teacher, more of a fa­cil­i­ta­tor. I’ll put the brush in your hand but won’t tell you ex­actly what to do with it. John, known by my mu­si­cian friends as Johnny Ten Coats, (don’t ask!) was a lit­tle set in paint­ing ways and much of his work had a dark and al­most Gothic qual­ity; a sort of cross be­tween Bosch and Dante’s In­ferno.

‘Don’t think too much about it,’ I said. ‘Be free, look at the colour, search for the light and dark, look for the beauty’. Ad­mit­tedly, this was a hard road for John and it was like he was trav­el­ling slowly through the lev­els of the In­ferno in re­verse be­fore step­ping out into the light. I love this jay.

The jay is a crow, un­doubt­edly our most ex­otic corvid, and you can find jays across most of the UK, ex­cept north­ern Scot­land. It lives in both de­cid­u­ous and conif­er­ous wood­land, parks and ma­ture gar­dens. It likes oak trees in au­tumn when there are plenty of acorns. Of­ten seen fly­ing across a wood­land glade giv­ing its screech­ing call, it be­comes more ob­vi­ous in au­tumn when it may fly some dis­tance in the open in search of acorns.

The ex­hi­bi­tion is on for a month un­til April 30, but it would be great to see you on Fri­day. For fur­ther in­for­ma­tion call me on 07736 175866.

This paint­ing of a jay is by John Tay­lor, of Glos­sop

The Laugh­ing Badger Gallery, 99 Platt Street, Pad­field, Glos­sop

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