Josh Hollingshead - Paintings of Madagascar

Josh Hollingshead is a self-taught Swanage based artist. He has completed several series of narrative paintings based on socio-political events in places he has visited. Some of his other paintings are allegorical and examine themes such as inequality, ambition and religion. Vivid colours fill his paintings, and he considers the symbolism of a colour scheme before mixing his palettes. He mixes 2- 7 palettes for each painting and uses oils and acrylics, sometimes utilizing the distinctive effects of fluorescent and metallic pigments. He hopes the detail of each painting means the viewer almost feels they could walk into a painting to discover its story.

Josh Hollingshead visited Madagascar in 2009 and has finally almost finished a series of paintings of the country. The extremely varied culture and landscape of Madagascar are displayed in this series, from rainforest, to the rice paddies and red soil of the Haute Plateau, to the plains of the South West. The Famadihana ceremony is portrayed in which a family disinters the ancestors’ remains from their tomb every 7 years, separates the remains, wraps them in fresh shrouds, and dances around the village with them. This unique ritual connects Malagasy people with generations past.

Exhibition opening times:
February 9th – April 2nd 2024
Daytimes (Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturdays) – 11am – 1.30pm
Evenings (Monday – Saturday) – 5.30 – 9.30pm and whenever The Showbar is open.⁠

Mowlem Visual Arts is an initiative aimed at showcasing exciting, new visual arts work in our building on Swanage seafront. Exhibited work will complement our programmes of other events, generally cinema and live performance. Applications for exhibition are welcome – please click here for full details.

Previous Exhibitions

Jane Colquhoun

Jane Colquhoun trained in Bournemouth and London (Arts Foundation: Shelley Park, BA (hons) Community Art and English: Roehampton, PGCE Art and Design: Goldsmiths), but almost everything she learnt about textiles was from the women in her family. Scraps from her mum’s projects provided her with the means to experiment and play with materials, from a very young age.

As a working mum in arts education, with only snippets of time and a workspace carved out from the domestic environment, working with textiles was a way of maintaining her creative practice over the years.

After lockdown, following the loss of her mother and a research residency with Seam Collective for the Holburne Museum Bath, her focus turned inwards away from the local landscape that has been her inspiration.

Themes and ideas of belonging and kinship and the connection between generations became the undercurrents for a new body of work.

Spontaneously collaging motifs from patterned fabrics, used threads, found materials, texts and photography into mini quilt figures, comical or surreal themes emerged that convey ideas about female identity and the shape of community. How we are ‘cut from the same cloth’ though may seem distinctly ‘different’.

She has gone on to consider the ties of friendship, sisterhood and some significant life events in Swanage. The collection of figures continues to grow to encompass a wider ‘family’ community.

This exhibition took place from 15 December 2023 – 6 February 2024

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Lewis Peake

Lewis Peake is a Swanage-based Artist and Illustrator working primarily with new media forms to construct futuristic narratives. Although his main tools are digital, he often builds models from local clay as a starting point for his digital forms. These are 3D scanned and then transformed.

The title “New Worlds” refers to both the contexts for the images and his move from London to Dorset 6 years ago. He sees his new location as a major positive influence on his creative practice. As well as working in Art departments in contexts such as animation, music video and adverts he has a passion for Film and has produced and directed 4 short films. Lewis has worked as a concept artist on many major productions of international stature such as His Dark Materials (BBC), Bridgerton (Netflix), Dracula (BBC) and most recently House of the Dragon (HBO).

For his exhibition at Mowlem he will present 5 large scale digital prints of forms that contain elements of creatures, space architecture and the archaeology of ancient civilisations. They unsettle the viewer through their complex weaving together of different times and spaces.

This exhibition took place between October 20th – December 12th 2023.

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Paul Jefferis

Paul Jefferis studied photography at the Royal College of Art before pursuing a career as a health professional but has continued to take photographs as a way of recording and interpreting the world around him. This show offers a personal perspective on the landscapes of Purbeck, often through close up photographs or with unusual forms of lighting as a way of revealing small imagined dramas in the natural world. 

Historically Paul’s work has appeared at Kettle’s Yard (Cambridge) and in the Landscape Photographer of the Year show. More recently his work has been shown at Sandy Hill Arts (Corfe), the RWA Photography Open show and the Black Swan Open in Frome. 

This exhibition took place between 1 September – 17 October 2023.

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Jim Hunter

Shapes of Blue are recent works from Jim Hunter’s studio practice. The paintings have their own formal imperatives but point also to the commonalities between abstract painting and Jazz. He seeks to make the surface of the canvas a site for improvisation that allows him to keep the imagery, and its potential meaning, speculative and provisional.

This exhibition is timed to coincide with the 32nd Swanage Jazz Festival. The relationship between Jazz and painting goes back a long way, from Piet Mondrian's Broadway Boogie Woogie (1942-43), through Jackson Pollock to Jean Michel Basquiat. As for Jim Hunter, Jazz Music is a very common “go to” as studio background music. It just seems to inspire! We can point to common terms used to describe both forms such as rhythm, space, tone, shape, interval, arrangement, fusion, improvisation as further evidence of this symbiosis.

Jim Hunter lives in Swanage and retired from his career in art education as Professor Emeritus of Painting at the Arts University Bournemouth. In 2018 he was elected a full Member of the Royal Watercolour Society and he serves currently as the Society’s Senior Vice President.

This exhibition took place between 7 July – 29 August 2023.

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Suzy Wright

Suzy Wright is a multi-disciplinary Artist based in Purbeck. All of her work has a distinct personality cultivated from her love of people, animals, food and the exotic landscape. She studied Art and Fashion at Arts University Bournemouth and the University of Westminster, has collaborated with many notable Designers, and was a Sky Arts Portrait Artist of the Year finalist in 2020.

“A vision of silk turbans, brash brooches and bold ballgowns. Suzy has always had an eye for colour and beauty. She is happiest when stitching, buried under a pile of threads, calico and drawings”.

This mini series on display at Mowlem titled ‘Family’ comes from her marriage last year.

All through her life she has painted her family members and friends and it was extremely important for her to do the same when she got married. She has painted her mother, father and sister in law and her husband, and was excited to capture their expressions and bring these large scale portraits to life.

This exhibition took place from 26 May - 4 July 2023

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Fran Quinlan

Fran Quinlan is a visual artist based in Dorset whose work encompasses drawing, print, performance, sculpture and installation. She is an Alumni of Arts University Bournemouth and delivers participatory workshops across a range of institutions and public settings.

Both nature and humanity are in constant flux of movement and change. As a means to embody this state, she immersed herself in the ephemeral nature of light and the sea, drawing with the traces that they momentarily declare in the physical world. The outcome is a visual drawing, although her experience is multi-sensory; sound, taste, touch and sight combined.

This exhibition took place from 24 March - 23 May 2023

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Sally Maltby
Between Land and Sea Moving to the World Heritage Site, the Jurassic Coast, was a revelation to Sally Maltby. She has always been fascinated by rocks and their formations in particular.

New learnings about Geology only deepened this fascination. She is continually looking for information other than the obviously pictorial. It is the rocks, and their shapes, that interest her, together with the colours and their histories. Her aim is to express the seemingly permanent, affected by an accelerating erosion.

This exhibition took place from 27 January – 21 March 2023

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Tony Kerins

The Mowlem Visual Arts’ third exhibition welcomes Tony Kerins with his exhibition of drawings: “On Stage”.

Pantomimes, plays, ballets and concerts by local groups and professional companies – Tony Kerins has been drawing at live performances in The Mowlem Theatre since 1986.

You’ll recognise local performers in this exhibition of dozens of drawings, or perhaps you were in the show yourself! Drop in and be transported across the years through the power of the pencil…

Find out more about Tony and explore his work on his website: https://www.tonykerins.com/

This exhibition took place from 2 December 2022 –  25 January 2023

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Helen Hardy

“My memories and those of past generations colour my thoughts. Our need for a sense of identity and belonging can be found through place. Landscape is a way of seeing. We bring ourselves to it, giving it value and spirituality. The place and landscape are part of who I am.”

As a child, I was often taken to visit my Auntie Grace and Uncle Skylark, a local master stonemason and poet, at their home in Portland.  Memories of them are filled with romance and a steadfast relationship that lasted even into their later years.

It was, however, on an occasion when Uncle Sky gave me a typed copy of a poem he had written, that I was shown a darker and
deeply thoughtful side I wasn’t previously aware of. I have kept that poem for over fifty years and finding it again recently gave me the
inspiration to finally commemorate them through my art, as I’d always wanted.

In this series I have drawn upon many conversations with my Auntie Grace and Uncle Skylark, their love for each other and their love of Portland and its landscape.

The technique I have used goes under the skin of the photograph by including text taken from Skylarks’ poems and writings by Grace,
tying together and augmenting the connection between my work and theirs.

Helen Hardy 2022

This exhibition took place from 21 October - 29 November 2022

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Carrie Mason

“My work is about finding strategies for living in contemporary society. The increasingly virtual nature of our daily lives’ places constant demands on our time and attention. I am interested in finding ways to engage with being present hrough my work and exploring the effects of time on both myself and materials”.

“My processes often use painstakingly repetitive marks and actions and are a quiet reflection of the passing of time”.

“During the pandemic drawing became a daily ritual. I made drawings marking lockdown minutes and the Solstice series of durational drawings made from sunrise to sunset”.

Carrie Mason graduated from Arts University Bournemouth in 2017 with BA (Hons) and MA Fine Art. Her multi - disciplinary practice includes drawing, printmaking, sculpture, video, and performance. In 2018 Carrie was awarded a b-side Festival Bursary and was commissioned by BEAF and also the Dorset Moon Festival in 2019.

Carrie exhibits regularly with the DVA Salon Collective. Her sculptures are currently exhibited at the Moreton Walled Gardens and Bridport Sculpture Trail. In 2022 Carrie was selected for Field of Action, a live event and exhibition at Canning Gallery, London; Fringe Arts Bath; and Black Swan Arts Open, Frome.

This exhibition took place from 8 September 2022 - 19 October 2022

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