Artist Andy Dakin to showcase his work at the Cambridge Drawing Society’s autumn exhibition
Taking place from Saturday, October 23 to Saturday, October 30 at the Pitt Building on Trumpington Street, the exhibition is always one of the highlights of the art calendar in the city, and it had a profound impact on Andy eight years ago, as we shall hear.
Much more recently, though, Andy’s beautiful painting, Cows on Fulbourn Fen, scooped the Mayor’s Choice Award – chosen by the mayor of Cambridge, Cllr Russ McPherson – at the second Cambridge Invitational Art Contest.
Galeria Moderna and Castle Fine Art Cambridge hosted the awards evening, where all of the winners of the competition were announced, on Sunday, August 15. The selected works were then displayed at Castle Fine Art in the Grand Arcade for a further week.
All 12 artists were presented with their awards on the night. Unfortunately, the mayor was called away but three-time mayor, Cllr Robert Dryden, stepped in to present. A local charity, Arts and Minds, and a
national charity, Arts 4 Dementia, were selected as the contest’s beneficiary charities – with 20 per cent of each sale split between both charities.
Andy says of the Cambridge Invitational Art Contest: “Interestingly, when I entered the competition, I had a feeling that it might do all right, that picture, and it even crossed my mind that the Cambridge mayor might choose a Cambridge picture like that – so obviously I’m really pleased. I’m really chuffed that it was recognised and chosen out of so many pieces of work.”
Always busy these days with commissioned portraits, Andy studied fine art in Manchester, graduating in 1991. He then all but stopped painting, going on to work as a journalist in Cambridge.
“When I left art college, I didn’t really know what to do with it, so for 20 years I didn’t do it at all,” he recalls. “I did other things – I became an editor of a local magazine and took lots of photographs and wrote lots of words.
“Then, in about 2013, I decided to pick up a pencil again – just as a one-off, for something to do – and the picture that I drew [Old Mr Farrer Up the Road] was chosen as the Visitor’s Favourite at the Cambridge Drawing Society. That just absolutely changed my path; I thought, ‘I’m ready to go back to this now’ – and I’ve been hard at it ever since, as much as I can.”
What sort of thing does Andy usually like to paint? “I wouldn’t say Cows on Fulbourn Fen is typical of my work,” he says, “but first of all it’s always figurative, so it’s recognisable what it is.
“So anything really, but generally with effects of light, I would say – the light being the key thing that changes it from a grey, ordinary day, like it is today, to something which is quite dramatic or atmospheric.”
Andy notes that he began a “very big painting” during lockdown. “Instead of working methodically and on quite a small scale, I decided to do something massive,” he explains, “so I did something that was about five feet wide. I just got up every day and splashed the paint brushes about and did a painting that I’m really, really pleased with. It was really fun to work on that level.”
The father of four is planning to display some of his Cambridge prints at some point. “Over the years I’ve built up a lot of paintings,” he says, “so I’m putting together an exhibition of those Cambridge works. There’s about 15 that I’m hoping to exhibit as soon as I can find an appropriate venue.”