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The Black Veil

Art Review: Paint a Poppy Challenge and Open Day at The Society of All Artists in Newark

11 April 19 words: Adam Willis

Newark holds the space used by the Society of All Artists, a cultural hub bringing creative people together to work, inspire and promote themselves both nationally and internationally. We headed down for their Open Day, to check out the society’s new group exhibition Paint a Poppy...

Celebrating the end of World War I, the Paint a Poppy Challenge has been running through The Society of All Artists’ monthly magazine Paint and entries have poured in from all over the world. The show is incredibly immersive, with walls covered in renders of red and black poppies tiled up high, pulling visitors into the stacked images. The individual impressions of the poppy come in their swathes, and highlight the symbol’s significance in our modern era.

We see the poignant and touching alongside the inspiring and uplifting, with
the creative passion coming from artistic hands of all ages and backgrounds.

Even a century after its end, we’re reminded that generations still feel the impact of World War I to this day through the thousands of images. The show is both a celebration of the individual pieces as well as the amazing things that can be achieved as a collective.

There’s a lot to take in. Visitors walk around a few times, returning to images and discovering new favourites on the third or even fourth pass; there’s a different experience every time you come to look again. This is an exhibition that offers the time reflect on personal experiences; thinking of grandfathers posted to frontlines as well as the thousands of lives that were cut so short.

Proceeds for entry will go to support The SAA as well as the Royal British Legion, which has partnered for this important and moving exhibition.

On my visit, I attended a pastel drawing workshop. We were warmly greeted by Jeremy Ford – our instructor and SAA member – who was calm, considered and really informative throughout the session. Despite being well out of my comfort zone, we spent a relaxed hour drawing out a landscape aided by Jeremy’s tuition and the large screen projection of techniques for us to copy.

I haven’t participated in an art class for many years, and I couldn’t help feel rather impressed with what I had produced. I felt like Bob Ross without the seventies perm.

I also ducked into The SAA art shop, which has a very well-stocked on-site store as well as a mail-order service and discounts with a society membership. I could have easily filled a trolley full of inks, paints and pens.

The SAA is an essential organisation for artists of all disciplines; it's a creative headquarters to promote new work, make connections to buyers and find an audience. It is a challenge to work successfully in a notoriously difficult industry, so having experience and support is vital for achieving a creative career. If you want to learn new skills, develop your creative practice or meet like-minded creatives, have a look into the SAA; they’re right on your doorstep. Everyone I met was friendly and passionate about the work they do, with a genuine drive to bring in new talent. Plus, it’s just a great place to spend the day.

The Society of All Artists Open Days run throughout the year.

The Society of All Artists, Millennium House, Brunel Drive, Newark, Nottinghamshire, NG24 2DE. 0800 980 1123

The Society of All Artists website

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