A group of artists working in Brentford hope to not only inspire others to discover their creative side but also want to forge closer links with the town.

The community of 17 painters, sculptors and photographers are based on Johnsons Island, off Catherine Wheel Road, and sometimes it seems only fellow art lovers and regulars at the Brewery Tap pub next door know they are there.

While shoppers traipse in and out of Morrisons supermarket and passengers pass the time at bus stops near Goddards or the Docking Station waiting for the 237 or E8; a short walk away is another world where amazing work is being produced on a daily basis.

The island is made up of ramshackle buildings which were once station masters offices and lock keepers cottages and lies the other side of a small footbridge beside the Grand Union Canal.

The Mushroom House on Johnsons Island where sculptor Dianne Preston has her studio.
 

In order to get more locals coming to see what they do and to raise interest levels a few of the members decided to mark a recent open studios event with a competition.

The sextet are Jean Terry, Lorraine Hudson, Vicki Cooke, Dianne Preston, Tara Winona and head man James Bissell-Thomas.

They put time and effort into generating publicity and asking Brentford businesses for sponsorship to attract entrants who had to produce a painting, photo or sculpture based on the theme of water or wildlife.

Nearly 60 people with an age range of 14-80 heeded the call and tapped into their creative juices to produce a stunning variety of pictures and models which were judged by professionals and voted on by more than 500 visitors to the exhibition back in June.

Organiser Tara Winona never realised how much work the competition would involve, but says the results speak for themselves.

She said: “This was a sort of ‘thank you’ for our incredible luck to be fortunate enough to work from such a beautiful place. There are not many such studios and I think we are profoundly privileged to be part of Johnsons Island. We wanted to share it.

“An island can become a bit like a goldfish bowl and I think it’s important to have a new flow of ideas and input coming in.”

The overall winner was a photo of a goshawk in flight called ‘Flyby’ taken by 14-year-old Michael Blenkinship, who took home the £200 grand prize, while a paper mache model of a Canada Goose by Margaret Porter and fabric image called ‘The Common’ by 80-year-old June George saw both ladies scoop £50 runner up prizes.

Tara added: “Several people who had not painted or photographed in years were inspired to start creating again, which was part of our aim.

“The grandmother of one of my neighbours was encouraged to finish an oil painting she had started the year before. She has since enrolled in art classes which is brilliant.

“There are local artists who struggle to afford canvases and paints - we wanted to give them an opportunity to win money to purchase art supplies.

“I’ve spoken with Michael’s mum who says he is more confident now and has already invested the money in new camera gear.”

 

Johnsons Island is likely to be considerably affected by Ballymore’s proposed redevelopment of the south side of Brentford High Street with blocks of flats likely to tower over the tiny urban sanctuary.

Fellow artist Dianne Preston added: “We wanted to help promote Brentford as a creative place with inspiration and things to be proud of. With all the new developments coming it’s important show our creative soul.

“We vowed to avoid any arty elitism which is why the competition was open to everyone of all abilities. It was a great feeling to have so many people apply.”