Railway painter

Ideford artists step into the unknown as they take to the road

Artists from Ideford got together and hit the road to inspire other artists and those who don’t quite have the confidence to exhibit their work alone. In the first of a series Paul Freestone, railway painter and joint leader of the group explains more about the Ideford Arts on the Road initiative

Railway painter

Well, this was a step into the unknown! Advertising, organising, financing… all we wanted to do was created and take our art out there to share our varied collection of work and ideas.

Following three successful exhibitions at the cottage in Ideford during which our numbers grew from two, to eight then 12, we needed to progress and it was first stop Ashburton.

We had to organise for ourselves. No one else to subscribe to and help us on our way – this had to be done in-house. Jan Lunn, the photographer and silk painter designed our poster. Angie Carter liaised with St Andrews Hall in Ashburton and by chance we came into contact with Linda Dowsett who has joined the group and with her brother in law David Edge, have proved to be brilliant at generating media interest in our idea. Had we done enough?

A convoy of cars arrived at the hall to set up. There was little or no planning of who should go where, just colonization of the hall with stands – just like you do on the beach. It worked pretty well and we put together in short time a varied and engaging exhibition in time for the open view on Friday evening.

Plenty of people turned up, some local, but many friends came along to support us. Saturday dawned and it was weather-wise a brilliant day. This would mean that people would be on the Moor, on the beach, or just cutting the grass for the first time this season. Maybe they would just be doing the chores at the end of the week.

In reality there was a steady trickle of people who came to look. ‘Does it cost to come in?’ we were asked. ‘Entry Free’ has to be clearly seen on the next exhibition in Topsham, Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20. People who came to see were really interested in the work. From spoon carving to working with glass, watercolours to photography, we all had people to engage with and that was the purpose of this first exhibition on the road.  There were passing visitors, local folk and local art group members who just popped in to have a look.  Sunday was busier – perhaps people had more time on a Sunday.

Was it a successful venture? We learned a lot about how to advertise to make people aware of what’s on. We all enjoyed talking to the interested people we met and sharing our ideas. The Ideford villagers who came along to put on refreshments enjoyed their two days and covered their costs. Many of us sold prints, cards, photographers, originals and two of us were booked to workshop/demonstrations for other art groups in the area.

So was it a success? Yes, of course, but we will be even better prepared when it comes to Topsham in June.