If you go down to the woods today ...

Mountain bike leader and entrepreneur Cathy Debenham chooses an oil painting ‘Woodland in the Snow”

Mountain bike leader and entrepreneur Cathy Debenham chooses an oil painting ‘Woodland in the Snow” by Adrian Sykes. - Credit: Archant

Mountain bike leader and entrepreneur Cathy Debenham chooses an oil painting ‘Woodland in the Snow” by Adrian Sykes, writes Alison Summerfield.

Cathy and her husband were passing Marine House Gallery in Beer the day before the opening of an Adrian Sykes exhibition in June 2017, when they spied this painting and were both immediately captivated by the trees.

"The details in the tree trunks were mesmerising," says Cathy.

"The painting wasn't in the exhibition catalogue and still for sale and we decided to buy it there and then.

"It is the biggest purchase we have made, but we have no regrets; it continues to delight and we see more detail each time we look."

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Cathy's choice of painting reflects her love of nature and as a trained mountain bike leader, she spends much of her time outdoors helping others achieve something they didn't think possible, "Seeing their confidence grow, is so rewarding," she says. "I particularly want to encourage more women to discover mountain biking, as we are in the minority in the sport."

Weekends are spent staying at Mazzard Farm, near Ottery St Mary, and showing groups the best riding and lunch stops that East Devon has to offer. Rides also include: Woodbury Common, East Hill, Muttersmoor and Haldon Forest.

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Running any business involves admin and having known the isolation of sitting at home in front of a computer with her previous online business, Cathy didn't wish to repeat the experience and neither wanted to travel to Exeter for the nearest 'shared workspace' , so she wrote to the Sidmouth Herald to see if anyone was interested in establishing a shared workplace. Her co-founder Louise Thompson responded and the 'The Lighthouse' in Mill Street came into existence.

"It is somewhere to meet other entrepreneurs, learn from each other and collaborate," Cathy explains. "A place where we are more productive without the distractions or isolation of working from home. We hold masterclasses for skills development, as well as networking and social events and create a community that supports people who are considering starting a business."

Being your own boss is true for most artists and, like Cathy, Bristol-based Adrian loves the outdoors, often spending a night camping in the woods absorbing the peaceful silence. In this painting, he explains how he endeavoured to combine the camping experience with his love of a snow covered landscape.

"I wanted to depict the idea of a family retreat in the woods in the depths of winter with the sense of solace and comfort where one might least expect. I like to express a feeling of joy with added quirkiness and often distort scale to add drama, in this instance, the towering trees are all enveloping and cathedralesque.

"A dark fairy tale that ends happily ever after, I want the viewer to have pleasure in interpreting the image before them."

Adrian is currently working on large corporate commissions and is looking forward to re-immersing himself into more paintings for Marine House Gallery.

Visit www.bikeguidedevon.co.uk/

Visit www.thelighthousesidmouth.org/

Visit www.adriansykes.co.uk

Visit www.alisonsummerfield.com

Note: Alison Summerfield will be exhibiting some of her work at Market House Gallery, Marazion, Cornwall. The exhibition includes work by Simeon Stafford and runs from Friday, June 28.

To read more features from East Devon Resident, click here.

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