Rony joins the Garden celebrities

Rony Robinson is the subject of  the Art in the Gardens 2013  Portrait of Distinction Competition. Artists from all over the region have each painted their portrait of Rony from a collection of photographs shot in various locations.by Trevor Neal
Rony Robinson is the subject of the Art in the Gardens 2013 Portrait of Distinction Competition. Artists from all over the region have each painted their portrait of Rony from a collection of photographs shot in various locations.by Trevor Neal

Art in the Gardens, now established as the North’s biggest outdoor art and crafts show, is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year.

It attracts artists, craft makers and visitors from across the UK to Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens

This weekend local favourites Pete Mckee and Joe Scarborough join a line up of more than 300 exhibitiors with around 10,000 pieces of work on display in the picturesque setting.

The range of creativity on display includes photography, ceramics, textiles, print making, leatherwork, wood turning, glass work, jewellery, and sculptures in metal, wood, and stone. The individual styles and subject matter cover realism to impressionism and all the way to abstract, by both professionals and talented amateurs.

Among the artists are Trevor Neal, Helen Parsley, Tim Rose, John Paul Cooke, Gareth Watling, Yuko Sekiguchi, Martin Decent, Carol Baker, David Brightmore, Wendy Carlton, Lynne Wilkinson, Kristan Baggaley and Richard Harper.

Visitors will be able to watch Joe Scarborough and Pete Mckee working on new pieces of artwork live in the Pavilion over the weekend.

And Mckee said: “Exhibiting at the Art in the Gardens was instrumental in building my reputation as a professional exhibiting artist, it was the likes of Joe Scarborough at the show that made me realise that being at Art in the Gardens was important. The great thing about the show is that thousands of people will get to see your work, and it is them that will tell you is you are doing the right thing.”

Helping to make it a family day out are other attractions including a children’s area, a stage with musical performances throughout the weekend, an Open Art Exhibition, artists and makers creating a bustling market on the main lawns in view of the pavilions, and much more of the Gardens to explore and enjoy.

A popular feature of the event is the Portrait of Distinction competition in which artists paint a picture of a chosen celebrity from a series of photographs and the subject selects his or her favourite as the winner.

This year’s subject is BBC Radio Sheffield’s presenter, writer and playwright Rony Robinson and as usual Trevor Neal has produced a selection of photos of him. There is still time for last minute entries. Competitors need to pick up a photo from the Council’s offices in Meersbrook Park, get to work, and submit their portrait before the weekend.

Rony Robinson follows in the line of names who have had their portraits painted - actors Bradley Walsh and Bruce Jones, fellow Radio Sheffield personality and comedian Toby Foster, singer Dave Berry, artist Joe Scarborough, BBC Weather presenters Paul Hudson and Lisa Gallagher, the Earl and Countess of Scarborough and in 2012 Olympic year, high diver Monique Gladding. Rony will be at the show early on Sunday afternoon to judge the entries in the competition and knows the Botanical Gardens well.

“Lifetimes ago, in navy blue blazers and itchy dank flannels, we escaped some lunchtimes from artless loveless dingy King Edwards grammar school, and came alive again in the Botanics,” he waxes lyrical.

“We looked for girls, hoping they wouldn’t find us, and joked and smoked round the mulberry bushes and in and out of the dusky bluebells, among the piranhas and bears and Peter Pans and fairies and watercolour artists and courting couples and whistling birds. Now, today, in early autumn, being arty back in this parky sounds as magical as it’ll get. I’m flattered to be involved - especially since I’m no oil painting myself. Even if I will be at Art in the Gardens.”

The event is on Saturday and Sunday from 10.30am until 5pm with admission £6. Accompanied children under 16 can go in for free. There is a preview evening on Friday between 6.30pm and 9.30pm and a limited number of tickets are available. The £6 tickets admit two adults (no children on Friday) and are available on a first come basis from the Little Nature Shop, phone 0114 268 6025 or visit www.thelittlenatureshop.co.uk