Saturday, 3 June 2017

A Chat with Artist Mike Bartlett

Mike Bartlett

Artist Mike Bartlett's new exhibition is running until 5 June at Alan Kluckow Fine Art, Sunningdale.

What made you become an artist?

I believe that we are all born with skills and motivations. I always had a need to draw and build images. Although I had the chance to go to Art College when I was 16, I chose not to and subsequently became a Design Draughtsman for about 20 years.  Then I made a major move into special education, gaining a BA in Education. I taught at Southdown’s College, Havant, Hampshire. After some years, circumstances took a turn and my need to make Art came to the fore. I decided to enrol for an Access Course in Art and finally turned that into a First Class BA Hons degree. When I was young, my dad said that if I didn’t follow an art career I would regret it all my life. He died when I was 17 so I felt I had finally fulfilled his wish by becoming an artist. This was a beginning of a new journey of professionalism for me. I set out to gain all the things needed to be a painter: a studio, website, contacts, galleries, subject and so on.

What was it that made you choose your medium? 

I worked with all mediums including watercolour and charcoal, but my preferred medium is and always has been Oil paint. Oil paint is the most fluid of mediums and suits the way I work, where I manipulate the painting, building and taking away as the work develops. I sometimes use Acrylic as an underpainting or to use some fluorescent colours but, for me, Oils has the possibility to surprise me.

What message are you trying to convey to your audience with your work?

I don’t set out to convey a message to an audience but the audience is important to me. I set out to make a painting that responds to me as I make it and I always know when it is complete. If the painting works and communicates a feeling to me then I hope that the viewer has a connection or response.

Is there one particular piece of work that stands out for you and, if so, what is this and why does it hold such appeal? 

’The Path to the Red Cirque’ Oil on Canvas. I tend to really like the painting I have recently completed. This is a very large canvas and is a development of incorporating artists such as Lautrec , Miro and Pousin in this case to form new narratives in my exploration of the gallery as a space to explore. It is important to point out that I am fluid about my favourite paintings.

Do you have any advice for artists at the beginning of their careers?

I would advise Fine Artists like myself to try and be honest about their work. Develop your own practice. It is different for every artist but the artwork must come first. Develop your own style. These days social media is a necessary way of being seen, through blogs, your website, events, open Invitations etc. There will be disappointments and successes, but integrity is the key to making work. Many artists have parallel careers, or work to balance their art career. A few make a full time living. For some, a social art network or collaborative group of like minds is a good place to share questions and answers. Finally, the most important advice is to want to make Art.

Is there anything that you know now that you wish you had known when you started out as an artist?

I know that being an artist can be an insular job, and some of the big names such as Aubach, Tracy Emin , Van Gogh (et al) had to be self-centred to make and develop their work. This is a different time where everything is so much more accessible and this suits me.

I suppose I realise everyone has the same right to be an artist but maybe not the same chances or confidence.

You have an exhibition on at the moment.  Where is this, what are the opening times and how long is it on for?

65 Chobham Road,

Tel: 01344875296

Daily from 10 til 6pm, closed Sundays. Or by appointment

Review by Nicholas Herbert

Mike Bartlett Paintings at Alan Kluckow Fine Art. 13th May - 5th June 2017. (Visited 15th May) A selection of images.

This is an exuberant and very enjoyable solo exhibition of Mike Bartlett's highly expressive paintings curated by Alan Kluckow and well worth visiting if you happen to be near Sunningdale. These (mostly small) works come with some intriguing thematic ideas to do with portraiture of art world personalities viewing art at specific exhibitions as well as other pieces inspired by Bartlett's visits to the zoo. The portraits are spontaneous, playful and convincing. The making of these works is impressive throughout; from the articulation of the paint surfaces, the clever visual compositions, to the kind of content details that one realises can only come from the keenest of observation combined with the most disciplined filtering out of the extraneous. These are paintings that at first viewing could seem on the surface to be rather superficial, but are in fact very clever and sophisticated canvasses about humanity. Personally speaking, I left feeling invigorated. Time well spent. Alan Kluckow Fine Art until 5th June 2017.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Viv the Spiv did his best to dodge PC Legg at the Waterstones West Quay launch of Penny Legg's new book, Crime in the Second World War: Spivs, Scoundrels, Rogues and Worse, published by Sabrestorm Publishing.  
   Guests in 1940s dress mingled with those from the twenty-first century to celebrate the author's twelfth title, her first with Sabrestorm Publishing.  
   The overall crime rate went up by fifty-seven percent and the murder rate by twenty-two percent during the war period. This gave the author much crime to write about during a time when people on the homefront should all have been pulling together for the common good. 
   'In effect, there were two wars going on at once,' said Penny, 'the global conflict and a homefront one that stretched the police to its limits.'
   The launch was attended by Michael O'Byrne, the retired Chief Constable of Bedfordshire Police, who wrote the Foreword; publisher Ian Bayley of Sabrestorm Publishing and period re-enactors. 

It's Exciting When ...

... the first copy of a new book arrives.

There was a thud from downstairs. This sent me flying to see what had happened only to find that a parcel had been pushed through the door.  As this is an arts and travel blog, I am taking the liberty of showing the world my latest work.

Click here to see what I found.  Lovely!

Friday, 13 January 2017

Fantastic Beasts - a new breed of animal attraction

Magical encounters with fantastic beasts as Yorkshire holidaymakers discover a new breed of animal attraction


Butterfly clouds, live birdsong festivals, and royal appointments with queen bees are just some of the magical encounters on offer in Yorkshire, UK, as holidaymakers to York and its rural neighbour Ryedale are being encouraged to stand up for British wildlife.

With 40 - 70% of native species predicted to become extinct if action is not taken, Ryedale’s tourism businesses are working hard to ‘find a room’ for the neglected and disappearing wildlife. They are encouraging visitors to shun expensive holidays abroad to enjoy free safaris in one of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, encountering some of the UK’s rarest and undervalued wildlife.

Badger and camera in Ryedale

“The Brits are a nation of animal lovers,” explains Craig Nattress of Visit Ryedale, the partnership behind the rural renaissance. “We’re captivated by David Attenborough, and our holiday bucket lists often include the chance to encounter rare creatures - but we tend to ignore our own native wildlife! We’re trying to change that in Ryedale, encouraging visitors to celebrate those quintessentially English magical encounters with nature that are so threatened – spiralling larks in summer meadows, brown hares racing across autumn’s stubble fields, colourful meadows of
Butterfly and lavender
wildflowers with the hum of honeybees, the spring-time peregrinations of baby toads, a glimpse of shy deer in broad-leaved woodland glades. These simple moments are so special – but if they’re forgotten, they’ll easily be lost.”

Visitors to the area can enjoy many close – unusual and free - encounters with wildlife, whilst also giving native creatures a happy future.

Why not wander through butterfly clouds and get a free ticket to live birdsong festivals, as the area’s visitor attractions plant miles and miles of colourful wildflower meadow and thousands of native trees, teeming with nature.

Make a royal appointment and get suited up to meet the queen of some of the UK’s happiest bees (and their besotted beekeeper), as ancient orchards are restored – with the chance to taste both the fruits and honey of their labours.

Child and lemursDiscover a new breed of animal attraction: historic country estates, once home to medieval monks and powerful barons, are now ‘des res’ for wildlife, while theme parks are nature’s playgrounds.

Introducing the Great Yorkshire Safari – wildlife guaranteed, it’s on your doorstep, and it’s free! And for something a little different, how about a safari by steam on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway, or even by husky?

A personal nature show (without roughing it) is on offer in Yorkshire. In the comfort of a luxury holiday home eat breakfast with the ‘deer’ neighbours, or watch chicks hatching live in their nests via a webcam direct on the living room TV set!

Even artists are going wild! This is your chance to meet top international wildlife artists and craftspeople in their natural habitat – their workshops, or even their gardens!

Wildlife-friendly farming attracts the country’s top chefs and producers (and a golden harvest of awards and plaudits…).

Visit Ryedale is supported by Ryedale District Council and over 700 tourism businesses. Working in partnership with Visit YorkVisit Hull & East Yorkshire, Welcome to Yorkshire and Visit England, Ryedale welcomes 5 million tourists annually, supporting 7,000 jobs.  York receives 6.8 million visitors a year, supporting 20,300 jobs.

To plan the holiday adventure of a lifetime to Ryedale, a must-see destination, and support British wildlife, visit or

Friday, 9 December 2016

Spotlight on: Ian Bayley, Head of Sabrestorm Publishing

A selection of books published by Sabrestorm Publishing

Ian Bayley, the dynamic head of Sabrestorm Publishing, talks about his life and work

Ian Bayley, Sabrestorm Publishing
Ian Bayley, Sabrestorm Publishing

I started my career as a commercial photographer in London’s Covent Garden working for many of the small advertising agencies there. As time progressed, I found myself being far more involved in graphic design and after some formal qualifications found myself working in a design office. Having a background in both of these areas has been useful in publishing and helped me to produce some beautiful books. 

I have a great interest in history with 1940s Britain being a particular passion and have been involved with a number of re-enactment groups in the past. I set up the 1940s Society some 17 years ago and I’m pleased to say it is still going strong. I do enjoy all things vintage and have a 1935 Austin 12 motor car which I don’t get out to drive as much as I would like to.

Ian Bayley and his 1935 Austin 12
Ian Bayley and his 1935 Austin 12

Through my interest in history, I have a large library of books. I was already selling books before Sabrestorm came into being but was often frustrated by what was available. Either the information I wanted wasn’t there or if it was, it wasn’t in a very readable or accessible form. I decided to bite the bullet and start publishing my own. The first book was The 1940s Look by Mike Brown.  This is a book that I am delighted to have produced and which has gone on to create a series with The 1950s look and, just published, The 1960s Look.

The 1950s Look by Mike Brown, published by Sabrestorm Publishing

Although Sabrestorm publishes books about the 1920s to the 1960s, the company particularly specialises in the 1940s because I have a particular interest in the era. It was where I was familiar and saw a need. The subject area of books we publish has broadened to cover history, vintage and fashion and they fit together very nicely.


Parachute Doctor by Neil Barber, published by Sabrestorm PublishingPublishing is really satisfying. Meeting authors,veterans and people who were actually part of history is fantastic. To take a manuscript, story or an experience and make it accessible to everyone in a form that is easy to digest and enjoyable to read is a privilege. There are accounts and experiences that should be remembered and learned from, not just of the high and mighty but of everyday people. Fighting for the Empire and Parachute Doctor are two examples where there were stories about individuals whose contributions should be remembered. There is nothing quite like working on a book for six months or a year and finally opening up a parcel to see the first advance copy of the final book. It’s just as exciting every time.

Internal layout from The 1960s Look by Mike Brown, published by Sabrestorm Publishing
I have to like the subject and it has to fit in with our other titles. Most importantly the author and I have to be able to have a good working relationship. A book is a collaborative effort and the author and publisher need to work closely together to get the best result. Our books are generally heavily illustrated in colour, have a strong design element and are a pleasure to read. Our aim is to make Sabrestorm's books as good as they can be.

Doing Their Bit by Jon Mills, published by Sabrestorm Publishing
Some of our books are very niche such as Doing Their Bit by Jon Mills, which will appeal to a very particular collector or enthusiast. Most,, however will appeal to anyone with an interest in history. It's really interesting to talk to readers who have been given a book as a present and are surprised and delighted by how much they enjoyed it and learned from it.

Ebooks have made traditional publishing more challenging. I read ebooks as well as traditional books and very much appreciate they have a place. Our books tend to be very heavily illustrated and in colour, which makes ebook production all the more challenging. However, this is something we will be moving forward with in 2017. I, like many others, still buy traditional books when they are heavily illustrated and attractive. Some books are just better to read in printed form.

I love publishing books and hope to grow the number of titles we have available. We are very selective in what we publish and at a time when so much is being published both on-line and privately, I want to ensure that our books are always of the highest quality and can be relied upon to be an informative, enjoyable and reliable read. I’m looking forward to the next ten years!  Sabrestorm Publishing

Ian Bayley was talking to Penny Legg.

Thursday, 8 December 2016


This new blog will feature news and interviews from the arts and travel.  I hope you enjoy it.