THIS week sees the launch of the 2019 summer exhibition by Plain Arts Salisbury, the leading arts organisation for local artists in and around Salisbury. As in previous years, the exhibition is being held in Salisbury Library and begins this Friday with an open evening and guest speaker, Simon Duffield, a scientist for Natural England. That’s a nod towards environmental concerns, which the group feels artists should play their part in addressing – both in the work they produce and the way they go about producing it.

As always, the range and scope of work is hugely impressive. This year there are almost fifty artists exhibiting, ranging from painting and photography through to a piece of sculpture involving a shoe rack (a follow-up, perhaps, to last year’s spider made out of snooker cues).

One of those heavily involved is Vicky Slater, a long-standing committee member who is both one of the stalwarts behind putting the show together, as well as preparing work to exhibit herself. When I sat down with her for a cup of tea last week, she explained how her own original passion was for photography, but having spent fifteen years behind the camera, has now switched to a new and distinct style of illustration instead.

Vicky’s pieces, a selection of which will be shown as part of the exhibition, are illustrations of people – characters who she has created and which are accompanied by a flash fiction style vignette about who they are: so nature-loving Sophia describes her discovery of the Fibonacci Sequence and actor Johnny finds his place in a long-running soap opera. Vicky’s aim is to try and capture the individual quirkiness that everyone has – the extraordinary hidden in ordinary people.

There’s a richness and vibrancy to the designs – there’s something about the colours that help to give the pieces a real sense of warmth. Hearing Vicky talking about the work, it’s an exciting new venture for her: adapting the skills she learned as a photographer for a different format. She spoke about how artists search to find their vision – not dissimilar to how new writers are always told to find their voice when starting out.

Vicky explained about how lucky Salisbury was to have somewhere like the library to exhibit in – there’s no other comparable public space where Plain Arts could put on such an exhibition. There’s clearly worries about what might happen with plans to move the library: even if the proposed cultural quarter eventually includes an equivalent space, that still leaves a gap of several years while that is being built. Vicky mentioned the growing holes in the high street left by closing stores – great potential pop-up venues, if only the relevant arms could be twisted.