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Friends for life: dog artist Anna Wilson-Patterson

PUBLISHED: 01:16 04 August 2012 | UPDATED: 21:42 20 February 2013

Friends for life: dog artist Anna Wilson-Patterson

Friends for life: dog artist Anna Wilson-Patterson

Anna Wilson-Patterson loves her hounds so much she has immortalised them in her art. Simon Irwin went to meet her and the dogs at her studio in Herstmonceux

Anna Wilson-Pattersons studio and gallery is in a converted sweet factory in Herstmonceux. Apart from the art, the first thing you notice are her two dogs Finn, a lurcher, and Bea, a retired greyhound.


They add grace to a characterful home that the artist is now planning to leave to follow her artistic muse to Winchelsea Beach. Anna stresses that she is not leaving because of Herstmonceux but because of Winchelsea Beach.


She wants to capture the ever-changing landscapes of the area and to be close to the sea again, having thoroughly enjoyed her rural idyll.


Anna and her husband Paul came to Herstmonceux from a home overlooking the sea at Rottingdean. She had just left her job as Chief Officer of the Voluntary Sector Forum in Brighton.


Somehow I ended up running this forum which turned into an enormous community organisation because everyone wanted to be involved.


I had about eight staff and we were quite successful in our fund-raising.


We used to live on the clifftop in Rottingdean which was incredibly windy and exposed so we wanted somewhere that was more sheltered, she said.


After leaving, she was able to concentrate full-time on her art whilst her husband could run his marketing and graphic design business Electric Pencil from their new base in the former
Angears sweet factory in the middle of Herstmonceux.


In her gallery she showed a wide variety of pieces by local artists that received warm words but no takers. So she decided to ask them what they would like.


The first few exhibitions I had were inspired by the local surroundings. I had some renowned local artists and I had some sculpture out in the back garden and everybody was terribly polite but they didnt buy anything.


In the end I said what sort of paintings have you got in your house? We went to visit a few people and they said what wed really like you to do is paint cows. Lifesize ones. They were quite specific.


So Anna began painting lifesize portraits of the village cows.


They wanted local cows from Herstmonceux. Not any cows. And they would recognise them.


The farmers would come in and they would say things like, Thats John Fords cow . I got lots of publicity. I became quite well-known. House Beautiful featured one in their magazine.


About this point Anna and Paul decided to adopt a dog.


My husband was very keen on a lurcher and we discovered the online world of Southern Lurcher Rescue which is a very unusual charity as they dont have any kennels. They take unwanted or abused lurchers and they have this huge number of volunteers all across the South East who take in dogs and assess them.


At the rescue, they said, Youre an artist, perhaps you would like to draw the dogs? I did some pictures and I donated some to them. So I ended up painting 20 of the dogs they had at the time. Then I had a Love a Lurcher exhibition and at one time we had 11 lurchers attend the show. Apparently whippet Christmas cards are rare, so I created some. Now thousands of these cards have gone all over the world.


Because I had done them with this printed method, they are quite quick and so people said can I commission you to do my dog in that style. Animals did not feature in my life until I came here.


Annas dog pictures are monoprints. She takes a piece of plastic, inks it, puts a piece of paper on it, draws on it and then peels it off to reveal the image. Its quite unpredictable. You never know what you are going to get theres only one which is why theyre called monoprints.


At the same time she also did commissions for locals tractors.


I had a tractor thing going on for a while. People would commission me to do their tractor.


Now she plans to leave the farm animals behind, at least for a while, and concentrate on the scenes around Winchelsea Beach, Rye and Dungeness.


We went on holiday to Winchelsea Beach twice last year and, as we keep going back, we have decided that we should move there. Ive never seen anything like it. Here is so green and everything there is pink and orange. The colours are amazing.


Anna Wilson-Pattersons work will be included in the exhibition Gone to the Dogs at The Green Tree Gallery in Borde Hill Gardens, Haywards Heath. 14 July-1 September. Phone 01444 456560 or visit www.greentreegallery.co.uk for details.

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