The D H Lawrence Heritage Centre was formerly known as Durban House and is best known as the place where the young D H Lawrence was sometimes sent to collect his dad`s wages, and for the well-organised campaign against it`s proposed closure some time ago (see `Save Durban House, Eastwood` posted 17 Nov 2010 at http://angpav.blogspot.com ).
In the event a solution was found whereby Nottingham University took over the running of the site from the local council and the venue is now considered something of a success.
This is the first time I have visited in quite a while. My first impression was that little has changed. The staff are friendly and helpful, the admission fee is reasonable and the heritage exhibition seemed much as I remembered it.
The standing exhbition refers to Lawrence, his friends, family and associates. There are pictures of Lawrence and his associates `The Pagans`, including W E Hopkin, a reproduced 19th centry classroom and more in the same vein. Perhaps inevitably, part of the display refers to Lawrence`s essay Nottingham and the Mining Countryside.
Of particular interest to me was a display of books and records relating to Lawrence`s work including a book about the Lady Chatterley Trial edited by C H Rolph (C R Hewitt).
One proviso I would make if you`re considering a visit, I personally would not take a particularly young child as there are a number of small, portable items on display within easy reach of young hands and in my experience only the most saintly of children will resist the temptation to do something unexpected with a plastic carrot given the opportunity !
On now to the Rainbow Gallery, on the same floor as the heritage exhibition, where we encounter the work of four local artists ; Janice Allen, Martin Sloman, Karina Goodman and Ruth Gray.
Karina Goodman is a painter of landscapes who had only a small number of works on display compared to the others. It would have been helpful to have a wider range of her works available. I hope she will forgive me if I say the few that were to be found didn`t really appeal to me. Then again, artistic appreciation is an unpredictable aardvark and my taste may not be yours.
Martin Sloman is a painter with ten years` experience. In general I would say he is more than competent in a variety of styles but this comes at a price and one is left with no clear idea who he is artistically. Having said that, his Venice by Night is absolutely stunning and one of the high points of the exhibition.
Ruth Gray is a professional freelance artist. Some of her street scenes can look a bit wooden (an exception is the excellent Heading to Nuthall After Rush Hour) but she makes excellent use of colour in some of her others, particularly Evening Puddles at Belper Tennis Club, Lanterns and Candles at Ashbourne and Autumn Impression at Matlock Bath.
For me the star of this show is Janice Allen, a self-taught artist who describes herself as motivated by "enthusiasm and the desire to paint". My personal favourite of hers was On the Top (Winter Freeze) though I thought it would have been better placed elsewhere in the exhibition as it`s one where you need to stand back a bit to see it properly. Others that impressed me were Amber Glow, Amongst the Trees and Sense of Solitude. Whether she is technically the best artist to be found here I don`t know, but her passion for painting really shines through. Would appeal to lovers of nature and the great outdoors, which is probably why I like them.
If you do visit the DHLHC, don`t forget to have a look at From Eastwood to the World by Nottingham-based artist Dr Ala Bashir , a very striking work which overlooks the stairs. This was of particular interest to me personally as in fact I own a painting by a Nottingham-based artist named Bashir. I suspect that`s just co-incidence however.
Take4views runs until 24 Aug 2014. The DHLHC can be found at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/dhlheritage/index.aspx