Amanda Goes Public for Art

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Whetstone

Amanda Rabey's paintings represent a colourful marriage of art and science, as David Whetstone discovered.

A new baby is always a joy but motherhood can put the brakes on an artistic career, as Amanda Rabey is the first to admit.

Since son Aren arrived five months ago, she says she has slowed down just a bit, although there's not much sign of this in her attic studio in Gosforth which is full of paintings and frames waiting to be filled.

And on the easel is evidence that in some respects a new arrival can add another dimension ( a portrait-in-progress of her sleeping son who is named, in case you were wondering, according to the Norwegian spelling. Amanda says her own surname is of Viking origins although she herself grew up in Vowchurch, a village in Herefordshire which must have been far from the invading Norse hordes.

The portrait of Aren, surrounded by the vivid colours she favours, was started last weekend in full view of the public. Amanda is one of the many North-East artists participating in The Art Tour which annually draws thousands of summer weekend visitors to galleries, studios and artists' homes in Northumberland.

She is one of five artists exhibiting at Sourdust Pottery, Kimberley House, Stocksfield. But as an added attraction she also paints in public, giving visitors an insight into her working methods.

"I'm quite used to it," she explains. "When I went to the Slade (School of Fine Art) in London, they made me go and paint at the National Gallery in front of people. I did it for six weeks and became quite used to tourists looking over my shoulder and asking questions.

"I didn't mind. I was just a country girl when I went to London, so it gave me confidence."

Amanda moved to the North-East 15 years ago with her husband, who is head of geography at Newcastle Royal Grammar School. She herself combines painting with teaching art at Westfield School in Gosforth. At the Slade, Amanda says, she went to great lengths to improve as an artist. "Because I'm a bit of a workaholic, I went and found the people I wanted to speak to and attended all the courses I could. …