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PUBLISHED: 15:40 22 December 2016 | UPDATED: 15:40 22 December 2016

Anna Fitzgerald

Anna Fitzgerald

'Salokin Photo Art

JOHN RABY meets Anna Fitzgerald, an artist with a unique & refreshing style who is making a real impact on the art scene in Exmouth

Anna Fitzgerald Anna Fitzgerald

Anna Fitzgerald is a prolific and successful artist living and working in Exmouth. I caught up with her at a seafront exhibition, organised by the Exmouth Art Group, where she had four pieces on sale and by the time I had arrived she had already sold three of them. Anna, it turns out, is quite the leading light on the art scene in Exmouth.

Talking of her earliest influences, Anna reveals: “I was severely dyslexic and when I was at school dyslexia wasn’t really known so I was known as a lazy student and a problem child, so my first experiences of art were that I was left to paint and draw because I couldn’t properly read or write. The teachers used to sit me in the corner and let me draw because that was what I was good at. Painting was my first language.”

Anna studied for a fine art degree at Canterbury as a mature student, however, she fell pregnant at the end of college, found herself homeless, became a single mum and gave up painting to support the family. Remarkably, she didn’t actually start painting again until four years ago, and she now has an art gallery at her home called Sea Dog Art from where she works on 300 different paintings at any one time.

Sleeping Hare by Anna Fitzgerald Sleeping Hare by Anna Fitzgerald

She says, “When I first started painting four years ago, my work was very realistic. I specialised in realism and very detailed work, but I didn’t enjoy it so I thought I would be more flamboyant and paint things I would like to see. I don’t want to paint anything negative or depressing because my paintings are all around me.”

Anna has a unique and eye-catching style: “All my paintings are layered. I use acrylics; some paintings have up 40 or 50 layers on them so it’s almost like a sandwich, like a Scooby sandwich. I’ll put acrylic paint then acrylic resin, and then more acrylic paint and I’ll build it up removing the bits I don’t like as I go until I end up with a painting.”

Anna loves colour, quirkiness, the story behind the painting and animals. “Because I grew up on a farm, all my animals are basically English animals, so it’s generally foxes and badgers and bees and hares. My latest paintings are magpies. Most of my artwork is humorous. I try to look at the lighter side of things”, Anna explains.

Recently, Anna started an artists group called EAACH (Exe Artists and Creatives Hub) which now boasts 300 members, pulling together the creative talents of artists, writers, poets and photographers. EAACH offers a variety of workshops, including an alternative Sip and Paint, where attendees can drink while they paint. “You can either follow through the step-by-step guide on how to paint a picture, or you can paint your own, and it’s basically like it says, you bring your own bottle. It’s in a formal art group where you can sit down and relax and just have a laugh and paint!” she clarifies.

Art in the Park

Anna has also become involved with the Exmouth Market Association. Instigated by local businessmen, Ollie Bainbridge and Dan Szarowicz, they run a market every two weeks on The Strand, in the town’s centre. Anna occupies a corner of the market, calling it the ‘Art Park,’ which functions as a selling platform for artists. “I think it’s really important for artists to have a ‘free to point of sale.’ A lot of galleries charge you to put work in.” For a small fee of £2 they can have their items on display at the Art Park, and pay 15% commission on any items sold, which goes back to EAACH.

Fingers in Pies

Anna is also the creative force behind the Exmouth Art Trail which takes place during the Exmouth Festival every spring bank holiday. The Art Trail involves the community turning their houses into an impromptu art gallery by displaying their favourite paintings in their windows for all to enjoy. Over 3000 people took part last year.

As a busy and prolific artist herself, she is very interested in helping fellow artists across the region: “I’ve started this group called Bite Size Crafts - to support artists through January, February and March. What that entails is small workshops across Devon, covering Totnes through to Okehampton right the way back round again. It’s bite-size workshops in cafés and gastro pubs on a Monday.”

To view or purchase Anna’s work, visit annafitzgerald.co.uk or search ‘Anna Fitzgerald Art’ on Facebook.

All images used in this article are courtesy of Salokin Photo Art.

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