Adventures in Colour is an exhibition at the Hertford Arts Hub in Hertford and brings together the work of the late Scottish painter Alan Davie and the Lithuanian ceramic artist Ruta Bartkeviciute, who is currently a fellow of the Digswell Arts Trust. Although the works on display span two generations, take inspiration from two diverse cultures and are created using different disciplines, these two artists have more in common than first thought. Both Davie’s and Bartkeviciute’s artworks showcase an understanding and passion for colour whether presented on a canvas or in ceramic form. Their individual and vibrant colour palettes, unexpected colour combinations and visual language of shapes and symbols, show a unique unity and visual approach to recording the everyday.
Bartkeviciute’s own adventures in colour started 8 years ago while she was studying at Vilnius Academy of Arts in Lithuania then gradating with a Masters degree in 2013 before settling in the UK. The exhibition Adventures in Colour is a celebration of her creative journey and perfectly showcases her current body of work which is inspired by ancient Baltic symbols, particularly the Tree Of Life and imagery found within nature. Bartkeviciute’s illustrative surface patterns are given a contemporary feel owing to the vibrant colour palette and unique style, referencing Lithuanian folk art. Each ceramic piece explores themes ranging from nature, harmony, love and happiness, evoking feelings of eternal spring and optimism.
For centuries the Tree Of Life has been a recurring symbol within many cultures around the world interpreted as either a fresh start or channeling positive energy, inspiring good health or immortality. Within her ceramic artworks, Bartkeviciute, amongst other subjects, reinvents this theme, depicting the Tree Of Life as a symbol: showing the harmony between man and nature and looking back to a time when man was a part of it, not above it. One notable piece in the exhibition is both humorous and poignant in style as it depicts man’s manifestation of stupidity with him sitting on the Tree of Life, cutting off it’s branches… but he sitting on the branch that is about to fall. This illustration cleverly displays the end of man being a part of the natural environment and his quest to control it.
Bartkeviciute is currently a fellow of the Digswell Arts Trust and has had a studio at the Fenner’s site since 2017. In 2018 she was crowned one of the winners of the 2018 Liberty Open Call, which coincided with the launch of the 4th edition of London Craft Week. Bartkeviciute’s work proved not only to be popular with the Liberty competition judges but also the voting public. Her work has appeared in articles in the Evening Standard, the Telegraph and Londoniete magazine.
Showing alongside Bartkeviciute’s work is the Hertford Arts Hub collection of paintings by Alan Davie. Davie, born in Grangemouth, Scotland in 1920, for over 65 years exhibited his work in the UK and internationally and has work held in public collections including the V&A Museum in London, MoMA in New York and the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice. Shortly after his death in 2014, Tate Britain held a solo exhibition of his work as part of their BP Spotlight series, showcasing eight paintings that the Tate collection holds as well as material from the artist’s personal archive. Davie began his career as a poet and jazz musician before becoming a painter, combining these disciplines throughout the rest of his career. His interests in jazz, Zen Buddhism and prehistoric cultures inspired his innovative drawings and paintings, creating a style that was both improvisatory in his practice and intuitive in approach.
Adventurers in Colour runs from 6th April to 5th May at the Hertford Arts Hub, The Old Brewery, Hartham Lane, Hertford, SG14 1QW. Exhibition times are Tuesday – Thursday 1pm – 5pm and Saturday 11am – 3pm. On the Saturday 27th April there is a ‘Meet the Artist: Ruta Bartkeviciute’ day.
For more information on the Hertford Arts Hub please visit: www.hertfordartshub.org
Alan Davie painting credits:
Top: Jazz by Moonlight No.1 (diptych) 1966
Bottom: Flag Walk No.6 1973