Flotsam and jetsam moored for midsummer show


Geraldine Norman
Sunday 18 June 1995 23:02

London's new contemporary art galleries clustered around Tower Bridge are this week launching their first Midsummer Art Fair. On Wednesday night musicians will be playing outside the 10 galleries to guide visitors from one venue to the next. The fair continues until Sunday night.

The show stoppers in the redeveloped docklands south of the Thames are Janet Nathan's painted constructions at the Reeds Wharf Gallery. They are made from a mix of wooden flotsam and jetsam and newly carved wood and resin. Elements painted in bright primary colours echo the fabric of boats and docklands. They lie flat but give abstract painting a new three-dimensional life and texture.

Sir Terence Conran - local tycoon and one of the founders of the International Design Museum which is also joining in the fair - got to the show ahead of the opening and commissioned a Nathan to hang in the Soho restaurant he is opening in the autumn.

It will be a variant of Blue-Cross Causeway priced at pounds 6,750. Wooden pieces start at pounds 1,500; collaged works on paper cost from pounds 750.Graham Coombs, whose turnover has doubled since he moved his gallery from Folkestone, Kent, to Tower Bridge Piazza six months ago, has bright, expressionist landscapes by George Rowlett all but dripping off his walls.

Rowlett plasters on the paint and almost carves it with his paint brush. Prices for his paintings of the countryside in bright, vivid colours range from pounds 900 for a yellow Rape Field to pounds 2,600 for a larger Pigeon Shoot.

Among the best buys are portrait photographs of artists at the Tom Blau Gallery. Most are pounds 150-pounds 300. There is a wonderful close-up of Dali by Robert Whitaker, Gilbert and George by Derry Moore, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon and Elizabeth Frink by Jane Brown, and Stanley Spencer and Graham Sutherland by William MacQitty.

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