I arrive at the Washington home of Sussex artist Alison Milner-Gulland to find her busy in her studio preparing to exhibit her work as part of The Steyning Art Trail which takes place on the May Bank Holiday and following weekend.
Alison explains how, in addition to the numerous places where artists will be exhibiting their work in Steyning, the trail will include venues in Washington, Ashurst, Bramber and Upper Beeding. She is excited that the Frankland Arms, under the new stewardship of Matt and Yan Shepherd, have agreed to exhibit her work as part of the Steyning Art Trail.
Alison’s work draws its inspiration from the Sussex landscape, especially the ancient Downs. As in the landscape we see here she often depicts light moving through trees and grass which invites you to journey in and through the landscape. Through her eyes we see the sweeping chalk curves, ancient tracks, rolling hills and far-reaching views of the South Downs committed to paper and canvas from memory in her studio.
At first glance her work is accessible and uncomplicated but over time it reveals layers, subtle details and evolving depths highlighting the talent of this artist. It is often infused with classical, mythical or natural inspiration.
Music too informs Alison’s palette and fluidity of line which can move from the representational to the abstract.
Her method of working is both joyful and reflective. Alison’s paintings and prints often go through a series of re-workings creating a layered and poetic interpretation of the world around us.
My eye is taken by a lyrical mixed method Still Life which rests on a chair in the studio. The colours are strong and there is life in the outline of the wine glass, bottle, paper and jug filled with summer flowers. I ask Alison if this will be in her show, she replies as she always does “Oh, I don’t know if it’s finished yet I’ve been reworking it. It’s an overpainted collage. Don’t touch the paint is still wet.”
With a number of canvases under our arms we walk across the meadows filled with wild flowers. We clamber over a stile to arrive at the Franklin Arms in Washington where we are greeted by the new landlord Matt Shepherd. He explains how he and his wife Yan are once again placing the Frankland Arms at the heart of this Downland village community. Matt explains that he was born and brought up at Bury so Sussex and her landscape run deep with him. He is enthusiastic about being part of the Steyning Art Trail and about Alison’s art.
I am looking forward to seeing Alison Milner-Gulland’s work hung and for sale at the Frankland Arms and to sampling the pub’s warm welcome, cellar and food. To book your table telephone 01903 891405.
Alison Milner-Gulland’s work and The Steyning Art Trail are always a treat! It runs on the weekends of 25th to 27th May and 1st to 2nd June. To download your free brochure and to find out more visit www.steyningarts.co.uk.
By Rupert Toovey, a senior director of Toovey’s, the leading fine art auction house in West Sussex, based on the A24 at Washington. Originally published in the West Sussex Gazette.