Exhibition: An Army artist's eye

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Harry Holcroft: The Silk Route - China to Europe

Air Gallery, London

This exhibition of watercolours would serve an Army recruitment campaign, as it is a visual voyage inspired by Holcroft's travels as a soldier.

Traders would have packed their wares, straddled a camel and set off on a trail - so Holcroft grabbed his pencils, sketch pads and paints to take a succession of journeys around Europe, the Middle East, central Asia and China. Needless to say, the results and geographical scope send backpackers packing.

"The variety of subjects, colour, dimensions and everchanging light were great challenges," says Holcroft. "I have tried to do justice to the magnificence of the scenes which deliciously haunt my memory."

It is a treat to get to share Holcroft's translation of reality into the picture image - not least through the watercolour's universal appeal in grasping a moment in time, but also through its appeal as documentation of the different points on the "Silk Route". The yellow skies could be missed in a blink, the shadows fix the painting permanently in a millisecond of time, and these are executed with skill and attention to detail.

The sketches are also sprinkled with comments such as - "Istanbul, getting too dark. I can't see," and "finished in prison having been arrested" - to make a warm reminder of the painter in the painting.

Harry Holcroft Exhibition: `The Silk Route: China to Europe' at The Air Gallery, 32 Dover Street, London W1. Daily 10am-6pm, including Saturday and Sunday. Information: 0171-409 1544

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