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The Big Arts Show secures Stefan Knapp artworks to exhibit at its Shropshire event

  • The Big Arts Show secures Stefan Knapp artworks to exhibit at its Shropshire event

To commemorate twenty years since his passing Cathy Knapp, director of Mid Wales Arts and widow of renowned enamelist and 1960s pop artist Stefan Knapp has agreed to lend a selection of his colourful painted enamels for an exhibition at this year’s The Big Arts Show, in Shrewsbury.

The Big Arts Show was established 2014 and this year it will once again take place at the Greenhous West Mid Showground, from 1st to 3rd July. Its aim is to provide a showcase for a wide diversity of artists using a range of formats and presentation through paint, sculpture, jewellery, glass, ceramics, furniture design, photography and performance art. The family-friendly event will include over 150 exhibitors, workshops and talks given by the artists, a real ale bar, eateries, poetry and live music.

Following three years spent in a Siberian labour camp (1939-42) from the age of 18, then as a decorated RAF Spitfire pilot Stefan Knapp settled in England after the Second World War. He enrolled at the Central School of Arts and Crafts as well as the Slade, in London. Following graduation and with a vast personal store of visual images from his experiences, the 1950s were very productive. His commissioned works included 17 murals for Heathrow Airport, several for Alexander’s department stores in the USA and one in New Jersey, which at the time was the largest in the world. The 1960s and 1970s continued that success and in 1977 he met Cathy. Following a period in France they eventually settled in the UK, where he produced many more of his trade mark large painted enamels.

Cathy Knapp, who has agreed to become a ‘friend’ of The Big Arts Show, currently runs The Mid Wales Arts Centre in Caersws near Newtown. Established by her in 2008, and housing a permanent collection of Stefan Knapp pieces, it is home to Sculpture Cymru and has a sculpture park and trail set in its 18 acres of farmland. In addition, the centre hosts exhibitions and runs workshops, courses, clubs, art retreats and live music events. She said: “Stefan was a well-known and colourful character in the art world who endeared himself to people and in turn the friendships he made lasted a lifetime. I’m sure if he were alive now he would wholeheartedly approve of seeing his art exhibited at an event such as this.”

Commenting on the offer of Stefan Knapp’s mural, organiser David Dawkins said: “I originally approached Cathy to see if she would be kind enough to lend us a piece of Stefan’s art for the show, but to offer a selection and become a ‘friend’ of our event as well is simply fantastic. We can once again introduce the public to the important work of Stefan Knapp, which will be a fitting tribute in the twentieth anniversary year since his passing. I am very grateful to Cathy for her endorsement and support.”

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