Photograph of Lars Tharp

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26 December 2014

"Our impulse to make art goes so very deep' says Lars Tharp in Leicester Mercury on 2 November 2014.

The following article appeared in the First Person column of Leicester Mercury Friday 2 November 2014

Every year, Leicester Society of Artists stages an exhibition of new works. This year's event opens today at New Walk Museum & Art Gallery and runs until January 10.  I was lucky enough to have a sneak preview earlier this week, just as the final works in this year's exhibition were being screwed to the wall, arranged on plinths and labelled.

Committee members were busy checking, with spirit levels at the ready. Going about her solitary task was this year's judge, Diane Hall, with list in hand, her pencil poised. Have pity on the exhibition, Judge Hall!  One person's 'good' is another person's awful; with our own unique backgrounds we all resonate and respond differently to the same paintings ,sculptures, ceramics.

As Alexander Pope once said, 'Tis with our judgments as our watches, none go just alike, but each believes his own'.  And thank goodness. If quality or merit could be measured, artists would merely churn out 'puddings', like chefs cooking to a menu of favourites.

painting by Dylan Waldron   Painting by Geoffrey Beasley   Painting by Peter Clayton

This year, 60 members of the 125-year-old LSA have submitted 136 works. They range from Dylan Waldron's exquisitely small, jewel-like painting of a rose hip to Peter Clayton's collage-paintings of London bridges and a fine portrait by Geoffrey Beasley of controversialist Will Self. There are landsapes, secascapes and domestic interiors, still lives and abstract scenes, local or familiar (Foxton Locks, Saddington, Port Meirion) or further afield (Warsaw, Cofus and Cairo.) Even Richard III gets a look-in.

In former times such exhibitions would comprise conventionally framed works of art on paper or on canvas. But as anyone visiting school open days over the 30 years will know, our notions of art have widened. We now enjoy a vast variety of materials and a huge range of artistic expression. This shift has been reflected in the annual LSA exhibition. Materials used include oils, acrylics, water-colour, crayon, various print forms, ceramics, wood and stone carvings, textiles and folded paper.

One of the joys of living here and now is this flowering variety, not least when it generates controversy and discussion.

Our impulse to make art goes deep; watch a baby in her first year; sumudging brown arcs of chocolate cake on to paper, piling food textures back and forth on her plate and gouging colouring books with a fistful of crayons. And then, in later life, when bored in the office, the autonomous pen moves as if possessed, doodling primitive shapes.

Art is as old as humans and reaches depths beyond the range of language, deep down into the colour-filled chambers of Palaeolithic caves.  Echoes a-plenty!  Make sure you visit!