This Friday, 15 November, Paul Bloomer’s exhibition ‘How Then Shall We Now Live?’ opens at Bonhoga Gallery. Complementing the work now on display in the upstairs Café Bar in Mareel, the exhibition is a window on our world, questioning our social fabric, warts and all, through the eyes of one of the most prolific artists in Shetland today.

Showcasing huge, previously unexhibited prints, and the woodcut blocks from which the prints are made, this is a graphic and very dramatic show; full of expression, pathos, humour and social comment. Is this the world we choose for ourselves? How did it come to this? Do we realise what we are doing? And where do we go from here?

Paul Bloomer image

Paul Bloomer in Bonhoga Gallery as his exhibition is hung. Photo by Jane Matthews.

Paul is well known for his prolific output and mastery of many media, but it is arguably his woodcuts which are the most powerful, expressive, bold and unflinching. This exhibition aims to represent the process of Paul’s methods, and the strong illustrative quality of his work. Jane Matthews, of Shetland Arts, explains: “Choosing from Paul’s incredible stock of work from over 20 years has been a privilege. We were keen to look at his work from a different angle and focus particularly on the processes involved in making his work. So, for example, we have his original hand-cut wooden blocks that add to the power of the final works.”

Downstairs in the lower gallery are exhibited iPad prints, Paul’s most recent passion. Working on either an iPad or IPhone, it is a transportable medium far removed from the slow and labour intense woodcut, that lends itself to a quick, colourful and fluid results. The compilation of animations projected in the stairwell demonstrates Paul’s technique and the process of drawing, over-drawing and reworking until the point of completion.

Regulars to Bonhoga will notice that this exhibition is in contrast to the usual seasonal exhibition of art and craft from across the UK for Christmas. Angela Smith of Shetland Arts said: “We decided on a complete change of tack for this year, with the opportunity to show Paul’s fantastic large scale work. But we haven’t abandoned Christmas by any means! The Lower Gallery Craft Cabinet and shop are stocked up with a beautiful selection of jewellery, textiles, ceramics and prints for every budget.”

Everyone is welcome to come along to the opening of Paul’s show from 6-8pm on Friday. Likewise, everyone is welcome to a free, informal talk by Paul about his work and career on Saturday morning (16 Nov) at 11am.

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