I wanted to let you all know about a group plein air paintng exhibition that is currently showing at Hartlepool Art Gallery until Saturday 25th May, which I helped to curate , organise and install with gallery staff.  Called Painters Outdoors: Plein Air In the North, the exhibition showcases the work of six contemporary plein air painters, notably David Curtis ROI RSMA, Haidee-Jo Summers ROI ARSMA, Andrew Farmer AROI, Chris Slater, Susanna Heath and myself, as well as showing historical plein air works by members of the Staithes Group (1894-1909).


The show all came about when the Gallery Manager of Hartlepool Art Gallery, Ashley, asked if I would be interested in curating a plein air exhibition that incorporated pieces of work from across the Tees Valley Museums’ collections.  The gallery wished to show the works of Hartlepool born artist John William Howey, who was an active painter with the artist collective known as the Staithes Group, whose individual and collective ambition focused on depicting the day to day life in the working fishing village of Staithes.  It seemed like a perfect opportunity to show both Howey’s work and that of his peers in the Staithes Group that included founder William Gilbert Foster, Mark Senior, Frank Henry Mason, Frederick William Jackson, Harold and Laura Knight and others.  Naturally I was very interested in collaborating on the show, with northern landscapes and the Yorkshire Coast as a theme that could also be explored through the work of some of the finest and renowned plein air painters working today.


In my mind I knew who I wanted to include in the show – artists that had inspired me right from the beginning and that I admired greatly.  It was in the Summer of 2018 that I was fortunate enough to be painting alongside Andrew Farmer AROI at Robin Hood’s Bay, where I provisionally asked if he’d be interested in taking part.  To my delight he was up for it!  It must be said Andrew was very supportive and gracious with his time when I first started plein air painting and I’m very thankful to him for his support.

Another Artist that I’ve had the pleasure of painting with is Chris Slater.  Ever the skilled draughtsmen when painting he catches complex scenes with ease and is able to catch the movement of the figure in a busy street so well.  Thank you for showing work further North than you’re used to Chris!

Having an exhibition related to Staithes and plein air would just not have been complete without at least asking if David Curtis ROI RSMA might be interested.  I was lucky enough to have a chance meeting with David in Staithes by the Beck, who had finished a painting he was working on and then actually came to check on my progress on the other side of the river as I was sketching out the scene in front of me.  Was so very lovely to make his acquaintance in person after watching his DVDs and reading his books.  I later emailed him the painting I did to which he gave very encouraging feedback, such a gentleman.  I was absolutely over the moon and thrilled when David accepted my invitation to take part and knew the show would be something very special with his involvement.

I then approached Haidee-Jo Summers whose vibrant and impressionist works have been such a source of learning and joy for me personally.  I always find her direct plein air brushwork has such a liveliness and I adore her loose tonal colour work.  I knew that Haidee-Jo still holds tutored courses in Staithes at Staithes Art Gallery and so asking her to show her beautiful work from the area was a must.  I’m very honoured to be able to show Haidee-Jo’s work to the public in the North East as I know she is a wonderful artist, teacher and inspiration to so many other people.

I then wanted to invite an artist, who like myself, has proven that plein air work is their passion and that had also worked with some of the selected artists.  I had seen Susanna Heath’s work on Instagram and recognised that her work of beach scenes from Staithes and the tees valley area would hold great appeal.  Susanna and I have been able to paint together in Durham and South Shields before and during the exhibition which has been good to paint with her and other like minded artists that find the northern landscape has so much to offer from rural and marine subjects.