Last time I was at the Weald of Sussex Art Club exhibition in Autumn 2011 I was looking for something to lift me out of the recession blues and I found it.
It has not been a great year since then and no-one will need reminding why, but at last our spirits were lifted high by the Olympics and Paralympics a few months back.
So this time around I was scanning the talent-packed Marlets Hall at Burgess Hill for some joybringers to revive what was left of the feelgood factor.
The exhibition confirmed that in the art world joy comes in many guises, and not just in the immediate impact of a powerful picture.
Casting round the rows of impressive acrylics, watercolours, oils, and other media I couldn’t help think that the biggest joy falls to the artists, who get so much pleasure out of creating works that varied from the safe to the daring.
Joy can be subtle, as in Peter Marlborough’s Carleon oil with delicate clouds, or the tranquility of any Ann Knowler landscape but especially her South Downs Above Plumpton, Pamela Hardman’s evocative and caresslingly gentle watercolour Remains of the Day and the Summer Meadow of John Amos which invited a picnic.
Or it can have an obvious human appeal such the portrait work of Wendy Standen, who magically captured confused eyes in her gorgeous Little Girl Lost pastel, or the humour of CJ Archer’s brassy Enjoying The Weald watercolour.
A feature of this year’s exhibition was a fresh look at the world, no doubt influenced by new members, including some terrific mixed media work.
So there was the joy of a slight adrenalin rush from bold works such as the accentuated verticals of Peter Waller’s acrylic Flamingos, the burnished gold in a unique take on Jack Mill (Jack at Clayton) from Sue Collins and the sheer warmth of the Cider Walker Ditchling Beacon watercolour by Holly Sellors. The graphic yellows, blacks and whites of Baah-The Southdowns Way combined for a brave and effective collage and linoprint in another fine entry from Sue Collins.
Some people’s passion is a quick eye for fine detail and few among local artists can match the consistency of J A Quinn in his painstakingly accurate 1931 Lagonda Speed watercolour or Hilary Steel’s ink and pencil House of Desdemona.
Joy of winning was captured in some welcome sports exhibits, notably the montage of Olympics triumphs of Inspiration for a Nation by Jean Evans, and the concentrated facial energy of Jane Jordan’s Murray Mania acrylic.
Wendy Standen won the trophy for best exhibit chosen by visitors with her superb Little Girl Lost. In what must rank as one of the club’s best exhibitions in recent years for overall quality, that was another reason for joy.