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An exhibition of paintings by Colin Allbrook sketched in the wings of the Queen's Theatre

By North Devon Journal  |  Posted: March 21, 2013

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WHAT do you do when you have time to kill? Top watercolour painter, Colin Allbrook, managed to put time spent waiting for his daughter to excellent use. The artist, known for his superb use of colour and light in depicting local rural scenes, used the spare time to take a new direction in his painting.

"It started years ago when my daughter was in productions at the Queen's Theatre," said the Umberleigh artist. "I would wait for her and kill time by drawing while she was rehearsing. Then, during the Nineties, when that all finished, I asked if I could go back in to do some more sketches. Whenever there was something on I would go and sit in the wings and draw."

Last year, the Queen's Theatre, which was celebrating its 60th anniversary invited Colin to return to the theatre and sketch more shows from the wings.

"It was the superb lighting that attracted me to do it. You would get all the stage lighting on the figures and this interested me greatly. There seemed to be a lot of potential."

The results of these sketches can be seen at an exhibition in the Barnstaple theatre's Gallery Café. The paintings show performers in action, as seen and drawn from the wings on the stage. In some cases the drawings on show have been made on the night while in others they have been produced later from sketches. Each has been created using a variety of media including conté chalk, pastel and watercolour.

"Due to this manner of working, many of the studies and finished paintings are very loose in their technique as the duration of most performances is only a couple of hours," said Colin, a winner of The Turner Watercolour Award and a member of the Royal Institute of Painters in Watercolours and the Royal Society of Marine Artists.

"The actors, musicians and dancers are constantly moving as they arrive and depart. The short time and speed necessary to produce the drawings adds to their vitality and atmosphere and helps give the pictures a sense of movement."

Paintings And Drawings From The Theatre by Colin Allbrook, RI RSMA, is in the Gallery Café at the Queen's Theatre, Barnstaple and runs until Saturday, April 13. Opening hours: 01271 324242.

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