Dianne Mary Alice ‘s artful journey of self discovery

From garden design, journalism and fashion and textiles, to a new career as an artist, Dianne Mary Alice explains to Edwina Baines how she goes about her unique creative life.


Dianne in the Rotunda Gallery, at the Philpot Museum, Lyme Regis with some of her paintings and sketch books image: Edwina Baines

The artist’s journey is a process of self-discovery, filled with doubts, dreams and challenges. From the issues of making a living and dealing with rejection to finding and expressing themselves in their true voice, the creative artist lives in a world of profound questions and subtle choices.

Charting her progress over recent years, Dianne’s first solo exhibition, entitled An Artist’s Journey, runs until March 6th in the Rotunda Gallery, at the Philpot Museum, Lyme Regis.
In one of the older parts of Lyme Regis, this museum stands on the site of famous fossil collector

Mary Anning’s home; and the Rotunda Gallery is situated at the top of its quirky tower – the glass dome providing a wonderfully lit space for display purposes.

A winding path

Every journey has a starting point: for Dianne it was a Fashion and Textiles course, followed
by theatre costume design and training for a knitting-machine designer and inventor.
For several years she worked in publishing, on Prima, the woman’s journal – before deciding on a change of course. After retraining, for the remainder of her career she worked as a garden designer: and as a lover of flowers, plants, landscapes, the sea and dogs, these motifs are now reflected in her artwork.
Locations have changed from Newcastle upon Tyne, Leicester and London but with a new home in Dorset came the move to full- time painting. During our drive from her home in Weymouth
via Symondsbury to Lyme Regis, Dianne chatted to me:
“I like to try new things and find out about different artists. I’m always yearning to learn more and experiment with different media. Colour and texture are important to me and perhaps that is why I like to use thick paint and a palette knife.”


A Dianne Mary Alice watercolour titled ‘Little Black Dog’, featuring her ‘chien de lapin’ Oliver, who she rescued whilst on holiday in France image: Edwina Baines

A Show Of Love

Lyme Bay Arts runs Sou’-Sou’- West Contemporary Art Gallery on the Symondsbury estate, where local artists exhibit throughout the year. The current one, ‘A Show of Love’, features one of Dianne’s mixed media collages entitled ‘Lovely Things’ and includes a picture of her dear little dog, Oliver (see above).

She explained, “When boating on the Canal du Midi in France we found him on the tow path in a very poor state (or perhaps he found us!); he couldn’t even stand.

A marvellous French vet said he might have a chance and a few days later he began to perk up, so we decided to keep him. The vet called him ‘un chien de lapin’ as similar looking dogs were used for rabbit hunting. He remains a bit of a hunter!”

From her home in Weymouth, Dianne can walk out with Oliver across the fields to Bowleaze Cove for local inspiration.

Here on the often-isolated sand and pebble beach, the big skies, reflective light and ever changing sea provides inspiration – and explains the colourful, exuberant vigour in Dianne’s work.

“Initial sketches and line drawings are done ‘plein air’ whenever possible, often moving on to underpainting in acrylic and ending with oil,” she explained.
There are several more Exhibitions in the offing. A new group show is being run by Casterbridge Arts Society in Poundbury, Dorchester, over the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee weekend in June. Focusing on conservation and preservation, it will be entitled “It’s Up to Us.” Dianne is hoping to work on a large canvas which will feature the theme of fish – a North Devon fisherman friend has provided lovely images for inspiration.

The wave – Oil : pictture by Edwina Baines

Take Three Artists

Over Mothering Sunday weekend, March 25th/26th, the ‘Take Three Artists’ exhibition will include Elaine Harris, Debbie Leech and Dianne Mary Alice showing their work in Upwey Village Hall. All three artists are members and volunteers of Artwey, a Community Interest Company of around 60 artists based in Weymouth, Portland and Dorchester. Their mission is to promote the visual arts through their website, exhibitions, open studios, art trails and workshops.
Members work in a variety of media from paint to print, sculpture to textiles, ceramics to photography and much more.

Elaine Harris is fascinated by the ebb and flow of a wave, a big sky, a foggy day, a wild bouquet, sunlight through leaves, the quietness of a still moment. She says of her work: “I photograph, I draw, I paint. I try out different and new techniques. I am on a constant quest to learn, to improve, to refine and to visually describe the image which I have in my head.”

Debbie Leech is keen to indulge her love of all things creative. She enjoys painting and printmaking and attends regular life classes and workshops. What she says could apply to all three of these artists: “My journey is on-going and I am still learning every time I pull a print, experiencing equal amounts of excitement and frustration. Seeking creativity in the many avenues of art helps to keep me sane and happy. It is such an uplifting feeling bringing something to life that is personal and original.”

Dianne and Oliver in Lyme Regis’ Philpot Museum. On the right is the oil – The Wave

Looking forward to Dorset Art Weeks on 14 – 29 May, Artwey members will be exhibiting at the historic Nothe Fort at the entrance to Weymouth harbour for Dorset Art Weeks. Some dates to get in our diaries!

by Edwina Baines edwina@theblackmorevale.co.uk

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