Festival performers captured in Chichester exhibition

The Fun of The Festival offers an exhibition looking back over the first five years of the Festival of Chichester.

Work by Diana Smith
Work by Diana Smith

It features works by Diana Smith who has exhibited at every Festival of Chichester so far.

The exhibition runs in Chichester Library, Tower Street, Chichester from Wednesday, June 27-Thursday, July 12; Monday-Friday, 9am-7pm; Saturday, 9am-5pm; Sundays closed.

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In it, Diana – who is married to festival co-ordinator Barry – takes inspiration from performers and audiences she has seen at the festival.

“I can’t imagine life without the festival! It has been so fantastic. It is so lovely to see everybody enjoying themselves so much. That’s what I enjoy with the painting, being able to show people enjoying themselves and performers giving their best and doing what they are good at.

“Basically, my festival exhibition is what I am doing at the time.

“I started out doing flowers and I have done landscapes, but I have been into figures for the last three years – and now this one is the festival figures, the people that I have seen perform.

“I was quite prolific last year. I must have done quite a few, but some of them are from the earliest days.”

Among them are Barry and Diana’s daughter Emily who appeared in a play called The Bear in 2013; also depicted is Zoe Rahman in 2015 and then again with Courtney Pine in 2016.

Also featured are the musicians Victor Ryabchikov, Bogdan Vacarescu and She’Koyokh.

“I start it in situ. I have to do it when I see it. I do the original sketch in situ. I get the idea down on paper and remember the rest in my head.

“I don’t like to fiddle around too much at the time and disturb other people, but for She’Koyokh last year, it was in a beautiful open-air setting and I was able to stand at the back and had much more time to do it.

“I never think about it in advance. I just have to be there in the moment.

“I just do a basic sketch for the painting and then when I get it home, I do it in watercolour. Watercolour is easiest for me.

“I have used oils in the past, but they are big.

“You need to have lots of room and lots of space and they are smelly!

“Watercolour is much easier. With oil paints you can do all sorts of things, but watercolours are more unforgiving. You have got to be pretty precise, which is what I like.”

Diana’s career was as a graphic designer: “The painting is since I have retired, but professionally I was a graphic designer, and I suppose I do paint in quite a graphic way.

“What I do is very clear. I am not a very wishy-washy person. I always paint or draw with clarity which is a very graphic way of doing it.”

As for the venue, the library is perfect.

“It is a super building. It is listed, and it has got lots of light. And people can’t avoid my paintings there! You have got to walk past them!”

Free admission. Disabled access.