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Santorini turns on its magic

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Oia, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright.

Oia, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright.

Santorini turns on its magic  for artist Anne Wright, who is back in London for her latest exhibition,  By James Brewer

Anne Wright has renewed reason to appreciate the magical atmosphere of Santorini, the beautiful island 200km southeast of the Greek mainland. The London artist, whose latest exhibition includes nine paintings from her trip to the southern Aegean Sea in September 2013, has returned to tell a story of amazing happenstance.

While she has travelled to the island many times, she still discovers new villages – and on this occasion, as always,  set about her sketching with gusto.

Anne spent the Sunday in the hilltop village of Pyrgos, finding a new spot from which to draw. “Such a peaceful place, ” she sighed. A day later, her joy faded when she reached into her bag for her equipment. She records in her book of notes and sketches: “Apparently lost my lovely old pencil box plus all its contents – how did that happen??? Awful. Tried to replace some things in Fira [the capital of Santorini], but, Oh dear!”

Anne Wright

Anne Wright

Undeterred, she set out for another picturesque village, where: “Serendipity! While drawing in Megalochori a French lady passed by, asked if I was English and then if I had lost a box in Pyrgos. So amazing, what a drama!” Anne reflected later: “I must have left the box on a doorstep where I was sitting to do my sketching.”

The two struck up an immediate friendship, and the French woman, named Michèle, “had a car and we drove to the beach, and paddled in the sea; then drove up to the monastery, the highest place in Santorini.” This was the Monastery of Profitis Ilia, at 565 m offering splendid views of the whole island. The monastery was built in 1771 and is dedicated to the prophet Elijah. The weather was perfect. “We had a great time, ” said Anne, who commends the way that the island is beautifully kept.

Finikia, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright

Finikia, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright

An American visitor once wrote of Santorini: “it is beyond breathtaking, and photographs do not do it justice.” In her oil paintings, Anne Wright does manage to capture its tranquility, special light, and architectural enchantment. There is no doubt that, as evidenced by her show at the Piers Feetham Gallery in Chelsea, her paean to the island is a labour of love.

Emborio, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright.

Emborio, Santorini. Oil on canvas. By Anne Wright.

It is hard to define why the output of Anne Wright is so appealing – let us just say that it has, to use a Greek word, a compelling charisma. Her autumn peregrination took in the charming old town of Vothonas with its narrow streets, houses built into rocky ravine walls, and church of St Ann; walking up to the monastery of Firostefani then down to Fira; and a bus journey to the small settlement of Exo Gonia.

In half a century of painting and travelling, Anne has spanned Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Greece, producing many memorable canvases, but few of her admirers have been aware of her dexterity with the medium of charcoal, which she used to draw domestic garden scenes in her local area of London during the hot summer of 2013.

View of Santorini. Oil on board. By Anne Wright.

View of Santorini. Oil on board. By Anne Wright.

This was the 17th solo show for Anne  – past events included a solo at the Hellenic Exhibition Centre, London in 1985 – and she is a loyal and valued member of the Chelsea Art Society and the Small Paintings Group. In 2012 she was made a member of the Royal Society of British Artists. Her past work has included murals for the head office of construction firm McAlpine, and for the General Dental Council.

Patricia Winer.

Patricia Winer.

This time, she exhibited at the Piers Feetham Gallery alongside another distinguished artist, Patricia Winer, who appropriately described her contribution with the words Eclectic Paintings. Patricia showed 37 works encompassing abstracts and fruit, flowers and even “my iron frying pan.” Her oils on canvas look deceptively simple to compose, but each carries a deeper fascination, and some bear amusing titles like Papa Pepper and Mama Aubergine.

Nasturtiums. Oil on canvas. By Patricia Winer

Nasturtiums. Oil on canvas. By Patricia Winer

Piers Feetham Gallery has a strong following for its staunch support of many fine, active British artists, and at the same time affords a platform to ingenious ceramicists and small-scale sculptors.  The gallery was opened in 1982 by Piers and Caroline Feetham. They say: “We specialise in contemporary British painting and drawing. Although tending toward the figurative and representational, the work we show ranges stylistically across a broad spectrum. We organise both mixed and solo shows throughout the year. Once a year, during the Aldeburgh Festival in Suffolk, we run a large mixed exhibition which includes ceramics and sculpture and other outdoor pieces.”

 

Gone all pear-shaped. Oil on canvas. By Patricia Winer.

Gone all pear-shaped. Oil on canvas. By Patricia Winer.

Anne Wright and Patricia Winer. Paintings and Drawings March 11-15 2014. Further details at  www.piersfeethamgallery.com

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