Should you find yourself in the charming market town of Chichester, take a walk along East Street in the town centre. Eventually, you will come to a road named Little London, where you may find a hidden path leading away from the main street. Down this path is the inconspicuous Oxmarket Centre of Arts - a modest little gallery housed in a medieval church.
Oxmarket is a volunteer-run charity whose mission is to promote art and support artists - they hold over 150 exhibitions every year. Last weekend, I visited the gallery when they were exhibiting works by Stephanie Draper - a painter whose dynamic and vibrant paintings caught my eye.
Stephanie's principal subject is nature; she paints the earth's landscapes in oils and acrylics, exploring human relationships with the wilderness. She grew up wandering the woods and holidaying in the English countryside, which only helped to develop her love for nature and the outdoors. Stephanie's paintings often become abstracted maps, charting an aerial view of the land. Yet, unlike an ordinary map, there is a great emotional response to the environment that is evident in these paintings.
As well as creating art, Stephanie has spent a lot of time travelling the world, working on social and environmental projects. She is fascinated by patterns of change and the ways in which larger global concerns manifest in specific locales. For example, some of Stephanie's work has explored the issue of river piracy, which is impacting the water courses of the Yukon in North America. Water lies at the very foundation of civilisation and when a water course changes, it has a huge impact on the communities that rely on it.
Oxmarket's exhibition of Stephanie's paintings has now come to an end, so I was glad to catch it when I did. Their current exhibition, which opened yesterday, is called Octagon and is on until the 9 June.
Blog post by Jessica Edney
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