STILL LIFE: The paintings of Paul Stone and Jill Barthorpe

STILL LIFE brings together two accomplished painters whose subject matter is similar but whose approaches and treatment are almost diametrically opposite.

The exhibition opens on Saturday 15 August at 11.00 at gallerytop

Paul Stone’s paintings are meticulously observed and make reference to the Dutch and Spanish Still Life paintings of the 17th and 18th centuries. The compositions are focused on the relationships between the objects and their environment. They invite the viewer into an intimate space to seek out the symbolism of the objects and the ‘stage’ they occupy.

Jill Barthorpe’s paintings have a sense of the ethereal despite being rooted in disciplined observation. Her paintings have an economy based upon the accuracy of marks and the precise placement of colour. Her training under Euan Uglo at the Slade and subsequent plain air experience in Europe defines the handling of light and space

Paul Stone

‘At the core of my paintings is the search for a precision of focus on the formal properties of mundane objects that have an everyday, unremarkable presence in our lives. As the majority of the inanimate objects are gathered from local charity shops, they also record a previous unknown transience moment when they are suddenly cast out for whatever reason. This results in a familiar and nostalgic content, and for me a more intimate relationship with their representation.

Jill Barthorpe

“For me the excitement of painting is trying to capture the ‘likeness’ of things without slavish description. Paradoxically, I find the most interesting way to carve out this reality is to use objects of an ephemeral nature: trees, clouds, flowers; their constant movement and the passage of the light during the day forces me to make decisions about their essential character and to attempt to draw that, rather than rely on an impression based on the moment. Similarly my approach to colour is to distil the essence and define the point of change rather than model the surface.”

'Smooth Skin' by Paul Stone

‘Smooth Skin’ by Paul Stone

'Orange Stripe' by Jill Barthorpe

‘Orange Stripe’ by Jill Barthorpe


FAUNA 2015

FAUNA 2015 is an exhibition of animal-inspired art from a range of highly accomplished UK artists. This is the seventh year we have curated FAUNA which runs until 20 June 2015.  For more information, visit us at e-mail us at or call us on 01629 735580. The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00 until 5.00 and on Sunday 11.00 until 4.00.

FAUNA 2015 is an exhibition of contemporary art inspired by nature. This is the seventh year we have curated this show, working with some of the most highly accomplished artists in the UK.

During October 2014, Emma Rodgers exhibited at the Galerie Alice Mogabgab in Beiruit in an exhibition called ‘Spiritus’

Owl of Minerva

Minerva was the Roman Goddess of wisdom and the Romans equated her with the Owl, as a symbol of wisdom and philosophy

Working in a wide variety of media including ceramics, metal, wood, shells and feathers, Rodgers succeeds in conveying not just bodies but the life force that animates them. They may be crafted using a similar technique and materials,but there is a world of difference between the frantic nightingale and swallow, about to be torn apart by a bird of prey in Rodgers’ dark interpretation of a myth of Philomena, and the hanging forms of the two pheasants, empty shells from which all life has departed.The sculptures directly inspired by Greek mythology include a vision of Sisyphus, his distorted, sickly body naked and vulnerable, dwarfed by the enormous black rock he is doomed to roll forever uphill. Icarus sealshis doom with two spindly wings, lethal looking shards of wood like arrows, each wrapped in fabric and ornamented with a single white feather.

It packs a powerful emotional punch, however, and the artist’s sensitive, balanced compositions coupled with her eye for arresting texture and subtle colour render her work undeniably beautiful.


Contour, Edge, Ridge: Dennis Farrell

Dennis was born in Liverpool in 1949 and attended The Polytechnic Wolverhampton (now Wolverhampton University), to study Ceramics in 1968 graduating in 1971. Dennis won a Crafts Council award to become `Artist in Residence’ (1978/80), at Swarthmore Education College, Leeds, and has been involved in ceramics education for over forty years teaching at; St Helens College of Art, Lancs (Foundation in Art & Design), Harrogate College of Arts and Technology (Studio Ceramics Course), University of Wolverhampton BA Ceramics, (Course Leader 1995/2000), he was appointed Divisional Leader in 2001 and Associate Dean of School in 2005.

Dennis lives and works near Much Wenlock in Shropshire, he exhibits nationally and internationally and has work in many private and public collections including: Arthur Anderson Collection of Contemporary Art. Glasgow City Art Gallery. Hanley Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke on Trent. Huddersfield Art Gallery. Leeds City Art Gallery, Lotherton Hall.

Dennis is a Professional Member of the Craft Potters Association.

“The passage of time and change has always been central to the themes that I have explored in my work. The process of archaeology and its concerns with time and layers has also greatly influenced the way in which I express my ideas and has provided a context for the development of sculptural forms with a time worn quality.

My current work responds to light, line, colour and texture observed in rural and coastal landscapes; weathered and eroded structures with their sea-washed and weather-worn surfaces are of particular interest. Other themes express an impression of place through form, sgraffito techniques and over-painted surfaces.

Forms are produced by wheel-thrown and hand-built techniques using red earthenware blended with stoneware crank or black clays. Surfaces are developed by applying coloured engobes, over-painting with underglaze colour which are over-painted with matt or glost transparent glazes and fired to 1120 degrees centigrade. Post-firing some surfaces are re-worked using diamond pads.”

PEAKS and TROUGHS: New paintings of the Derbyshire Peak District by Chris Prout

On 11 April 2015 Chris Prout’s new solo exhibition opens at gallerytop. This is the eagerly anticipated show of new work after the success of Chris’ Chatsworth paintings in the summer of 2014. This is what Chris wrote about PEAKS and TROUGHS:

Peaks, Troughs and my pounding heart…
I’m taken with landlocked Derbyshire. I love its rich and diverse topography, searing hills, edges and vistas that stretch far and wide. The short and winding roads that connect and lead you to pretty villages, market towns, farmland, mills, rivers and reservoirs. The weather too plays a significant part. It can be harsh and unforgiving, yet offer stunning light and rain shows. The elements play an important part of fuelling the rivers and tributaries that energised the industry and historic mills and put this landmass on the world map. The landscape is rich in natural minerals which have been mined and quarried ceaselessly. Farming, along with the growth of housing, have carved beautiful gestures in the rise and fall of the land.
The paintings displayed here are an amalgam of images created from working drawings, musings and memories of locations sampled and enjoyed. There is a sense that you are joining me on a meandering walk, slowly discovering new paths, ancient walkways, feeling the rain, enjoying the fresh air, getting wet, gasping at the beauty, tiptoeing on the Peaks and splashing around in the troughs. In essence, it’s Derbyshire. It’s a new adventure for me and it makes my heart jump a beat. ‘I like it!’
The images shown on this blog attempt to give a sense of the various relative sizes of the paintings, though they are not to scale.
These paintings are small, all 20cm x 20cm

The following paintings are all 30cm x 30cm

The following group of paintings are all 40cm x 40cm

 The two following paintings are 50cm x 50cm
 The three following paintings are (in the region of) 70cm x 70cm

The last two paintings are the largest in the exhibition at 90cm x 90 cm which, together with Chris’ trademark unique frames, make them over a metre.

Rex Preston and Mark Preston

We are very pleased to be welcoming two of Derbyshire’s most accomplished and outstanding painters to the gallery in March – Rex Preston and Mark Preston. they are both highly successful artists with a keen focus on painting directly from nature, working outside in all conditions to capture the essential beauty


“I spend as much time as possible out in the countryside whatever the weather searching for subjects. When the weather allows, I paint out on location and just walk until something takes my eye. I quite often don’t know what I am looking for, but it usually involves colour, light and reflections. Sketching is also very useful to quickly record fleeting light effects and atmospheres. Often in showery weather it would be impossible to paint, but a sketch can record the changing skies and light effects. The most incredible effect might only last for a few minutes, but with my pencil and sketchbook, I can capture enough to be able to paint it later. Back in my studio, my sketch will remind me of what really inspired me and, together with my memory and imagination, will give me all I need to complete the painting.”


Mark paints in acrylics and works mainly in situ with relatively little time spent in the studio. “For me, experiencing the landscape and elements directly is essential to attempt to capture them in paint. I just need to be there to respond to the situation and the spirit of the landscape” This direct approach of working from nature, allows him time to observe and experience the subtle changes in colour, light and atmosphere, enabling him to build up an understanding and awareness of the places he paints. One mainstay of Mark’s thinking comes from John Constable’s declaration that “Nature is the fountain’s head, the source from whence all originality must spring”.



Winter exhibition: Artists profiles

The Winter exhibition at gallerytop opened on Saturday 7 February with new work by five artists whose work reflects the Derbyshire Peak District. You can see all the paintings in the exhibition HERE. The gallery is open 10.00 – 5.00 Tuesday to Saturday and 11.00 – 4.00 on Sundays. If you’d like to reserve a painting or take advantage of our home approval scheme, call us on 01629 735580 or e-mail us at . We also offer the Arts Council’s Own Art scheme