The Familiar Faces of the Contemporary Art Auctions

Lot 96: 'Red Landscape' by Alison Milner-Gulland

Nicholas Toovey, event organiser of the Contemporary Art Auctions, every year selects an eclectic mix of works from both emerging and established artists working in a range of different media.  The auction is now in its sixth year and is fast becoming the annual event for contemporary art enthusiasts.  In the introduction to this year’s catalogue Nicholas states that ‘it is a great privilege to be in a position whereby I can promote contemporary art in Sussex.  Over the years I have met some fascinating, eccentric, humble, intelligent and exceptional artists.’  This year two-thirds of the participants have featured in previous sales, but it might come as some surprise that only four artists have entered work in each of the six Contemporary Art Auctions at Toovey’s.

Washington-based artist, Alison Milner-Gulland, is one of these four regular participants.  Alison’s paintings, prints and ceramics all reflect the beautiful rural countryside surrounding her studio, infused with classical, mythical or natural inspirations.  Her rich, earthy palette also reflects her Sussex surroundings, and is exemplified in ‘Red Landscape‘ and her two other works entered this year.  She works in a variety of media, including oil paintings, prints and ceramics. The media often dictates her subject matter, while her subject matter informs how she uses the chosen media.  The variety in media and style means her art fits into almost all interiors, from country cottages to feature walls in contemporary spaces.  At first glance her work is accessible and uncomplicated, but over time, the layers, subtle details and evolving depths of the art come to the fore, highlighting the talent of this artist.

Lot 61: 'Event Horizon' by Susie Jenkins

Arundel-based photographer Susie Jenkins has also entered work every year.  Susie has a different viewpoint to the rest of the world when she looks through the lens of a camera.  Examining the minute details of the bottom of boats or other ‘found’ objects she immerses viewers into a different world, as seen in ‘Event Horizon‘ or, creates a striking abstracted view, like ‘Purple Abstract‘  – challenging the onlooker of her photographs to look at images in a different way.  Nicholas Toovey featured Susie in the August 2011 issue of Sussex Life magazine.

Lot 9: 'Engine House Bottle' by Ben Barker
Lot 25: 'Loose Chickens' by Josse Davis

Ceramicists Ben Barker from Steyning and Josse Davis from Arundel make up the other two artists who have entered work in every auction. Regular followers of the auction will see how Ben’s work has developed from his highly precise geometric work in porcelain offered in previous years to the freer ‘Engine House Bottles‘. These bottles reflect his childhood in Cornwall and draws its inspiration from the Cornish landscape.  He states: ‘The form of the bottles is influenced by the architecture of the pump houses for the now discarded tin mines.  Different clays are combined to create the impressions of rockfalls, decorative geometric marks refer to industrial activity and the use of clay slips and metal oxides echo the colour and texture of the landscape. Some bottles are dark and threatening, as in wet cliffs and caves, and others suggest reflected light from the sea.’

Josse is the son of the famous ceramicist and artist Derek Davis and the painter Ruth Davis. Having been born into a world of colour and form, Josse was always destined to be creative. Every year he showcases a different range of work at the sale.  In previous auctions he has shown his whimsical tin-glazed flat-back figures of animals and work depicting aliens undertaking everyday tasks on earth.  This year Josse is showing three examples of his hand-decorated stoneware in blue and white including ‘Loose Chickens‘.  This work shows his confidence and a freedom in the brush-drawn depiction of chickens.  Also included in the sale by Josse is ‘Frolics‘, a thrown stoneware teapot and cover with a cane loop handle. Fully functional and probably the perfect size for tea for two – although it may not be suitable for tea with the grandparents or in-laws as it is decorated with nude figures ‘frolicking’ amongst hearts!

The catalogue for this year’s Contemporary Art Auction is available to view online here although it does not include the insightful question-and-answer feature with every artist which is only available in the printed catalogue. So if you want to find out which one of the above artists favourite quote is Gary Player’s “The more I practise the luckier I get”, purchasing the catalogue is the only way to find out! The auction is held on July 21st at 6pm, for more information visit our previous blog post (listing all the participating artists) or the Contemporary Art Auction page on the Toovey’s website.

Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auction Catalogue Out Now

The TOOVEY’S Contemporary Art Auction 2011 catalogue is available now.  £6.00 at Horsham Museum and at our Spring Gardens auction rooms (£7.00 by post available only from our offices).

In addition to what you can see on the free online catalogue, the printed version carries additional biographical snippets on each of the 60 participating artists.  All 170 lots are illustrated and reproduced in colour.