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Press Release | Rapture Collective's PARADISE at Velarde | 25 May - 6 July

                                                                                                        Press Release  07 | 03 | 24


"An uplifting celebration of summer vitality, exquisite flora and fauna and luscious painting"

25th May to 6th July 2024

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Mother Sky|oil on organza over canvas | Jesse Leroy Smith

From late May to early July, South Devon's Velarde presentsParadise, an uplifting celebration of summer vitality, exquisite flora and fauna and luscious painting,curated by the highly acclaimed Rapture collective and focused on new paintings by Jesse Leroy Smith alongside invited artists.

 Rapture's ethos is to invite artists that share their vision for the gallery experience, and that have their own distinctive voice, in order to create shows with depth, integrity and exponential passion. Velarde, with its bright gallery space opening onto a beautiful sculpture garden, offers Rapture the ideal environment for the curation of this life affirming, immersive exhibition of colour and light.Paradise,which includes work by artistsJesse Leroy Smith, Michael Angove, Fleckner, Lucianna Whittle, Jacques Nimki, Richard Ballinger, Anthony Garratt, Mhairi Treharne, Soma Bognar, Sharon Purves, Sethe Smith and others, is billed as "a hot house of devotional images of nature and vivid paintings of humankind, adorned with creatures of the sky, surrounded by abundant flowers and lush terrains".

The show is curated around recent work by Jesse Leroy Smith that is profoundly shaped by his many residencies and journeys across Greece. Whilst there, Jesse made a series of expansive paintings in derelict buildings, using the water and natural earth pigments that were to hand. These images were made in response to the stories and histories he heard on his travels, and his own immediate experiences and feelings. ForParadise,Jesse has made a 20 by 10ft long frieze painting on canvas tarpaulins, influenced by families dining and socialising in the tavernas and bars of Greece, surrounded by the wild creatures he observed, drew and collaged there. From highly collectable pieces to hidden gems by emerging artists, this exhibition has been created in praise of painting in all its guises and brings together works by artists of international note with that of brilliant new graduates. Each of the included artists has been inspired by travels to wild landscapes or imaginary places, all working with Rapture to deliver a deeply generous show of positivity and homage to Nature that will include Jesse's expansive tableaux alongside miniature icons, reverential trompe l'oeil images in coloured pencil, and collages disfigured by a heady combination of power tools and emotion.

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Ploughed Fields, Granite, Meadow|oil on canvas | Richard Ballinger

Jesse says:"Key to Rapture's ethos is the mixing of established and emerging practitioners together within one event, and throwing the event open to anyone else who is interested in taking part. This creates a vibrant energy. We are always aiming to create an informal, free-flowing atmosphere where people feel connected and stimulated, and where new kinds of connections can happen, so the mix of who is in the room is really important. We invite artists to join us in supporting the growth of artistic endeavors and to contribute to the evolution of the contemporary art scene in Devon and beyond".             

During the exhibition there will be a programme of events, public talks and filmed interviews with the artists and gallery team. The first of these will be ongoing ‘walks and talks' at the gallery, from 12pm to 4pm on Saturday 25th May. All are welcome. No booking required.             

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Filigree|Pencil on hot pressed archival paper | Michael Angove


Rapture is a collaborative circle of artists, curators, designers, mentors, writers and creatives with a reputation for shows at which audiences experience art in inspirational environments, inviting genuine engagement and mutual generosity. From exuberance to solace, the monumental to the intimate, their curated exhibitions use sound, light, colour and scent to reimagine evocative venues. Their socially charged events draw on performance, music, food, and all that sustains Art. Rapture begins from the reciprocal relationship between artist and audience, because they believe that this positive context cultivates artistic brilliance that demands to be shared.             Rapture's lead artists are:                                                                                                                                                            

Jesse Leroy Smithis a painter, curator, collaborator and mentor working in both Newlyn, Cornwall and Brighton. His figurative painting is shaped by the collage, drawing, print, film, book and public art projects he curates. His various collaborations, travels and ‘invented artists' have all allowed film, installation, performance and print making to influence his work. Over the last fifteen years he has become highly respected for the shows he has curated in abandoned buildings or at civic sites, that have brought large groups of artists and local communities together in order to transform these venues and contribute to cultural conversations.

Jesse says:"I collate scrapbooks in which friends, family and heroes montage with film stills, costumes, creatures and landscapes from my travels, alongside contributions from my children and drawings from religious iconography and ancient art."

Jesse graduated with a Degree in Fine Art from Norwich School of Art and a Postgraduate Diploma from the Royal Academy Schools, 1989 to 1992. He exhibits internationally and his recent residencies include travels through Germany, Greece and Ireland. 



Michael Angoveis a Welsh artist based in Devizes, Wiltshire. He trained at Winchester School of Art and attained a Masters Degree at the Royal College of Art. Michael's work is an exquisite celebration of the rare and revered art of trompe l'oeil drawing. Each carefully chosen object is rendered with a finely sharpened colour pencil onto archival paper, a space he calls 'The Empty Room'. He has a twenty year history in design working for a string of well-known brands in Italy such as Jean-Paul Gaultier and Hugo Boss, and British brands from Liberty and Jo Malone London to Farrow & Ball and Agent Provocateur. 

@michael angove_drawing

Lucianna Whittleis known for making large abstract oil paintings on paper. Based in Studio 106 in Hove, her work comes from a place of natural engagement with her materials and curiosity about the act of painting itself. Lucianna holds a Fine Art Painting Degree and an MA in Cultural and Critical Theory, which influences her still in her pursuit of the truth in art. Rapture is a deep enquiry into the element of encounter present in the gallery setting, and fulfils Lucianna's passion for connecting art with the audience in real time.



Flecknerwas born in Coventry and is now based in Northamptonshire. He wasted many years in the construction business and his love of the arts remained locked in the closet, a dirty secret. He now spends most of his waking hours consumed with the deployment and disfigurement of prosaic materials in an endless pursuit of Rapture. His practice incorporates installation, image manufacture and something akin to sculpture.


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A Little Birdy Told Me|Mhairi Treharne


SeeParadisefrom 25thMay to 6thJuly 2024 at Velarde,86 Fore St, Kingsbridge, Devon TQ7 1PP

Preview opening on Friday 24th May 6pm to



Print Ready 300dpi images for press use:


RICHARD BALLINGER Ploughed Fields, Granite, Meadow


MHAIRI TREHARNE A Little Birdy Told Me

Editors Notes


Rapture is a circle of four lead artists/curators with an extensive network of creatives across the country and beyond with a legacy of groundbreaking shows that bring diverse audiences together. Each nomadic and dynamic project is a combination of the place they happen in, the community involved and the creative parameters they set. 

Contact Rapture at @rapture_live or contact Jesse at 07944 262727



Opened in July 2023, Velarde is a contemporary Fine Art and Craft gallery in the heart of Kingsbridge, South Devon. The building includes a 1,400 square foot exhibition space, a sculpture garden, and two boutique apartments.Velarde aims to bring the very best in British and International contemporary art to Devon, giving collectors the opportunity to connect with emerging new talent, as well as established artists and makers. With a focus on quality, diversity of practice and creative innovation, Velarde's year-round programme of exhibitions brings exceptional painting, sculpture, photography and contemporary craft to the heart of the Southwest.

For further information contact Velarde, 86 Fore Street, Kingsbridge, Devon, TQ7 1PP



For further press information, interviews or additional images contact Mercedes Smith at Fine Art Communications | Tel 07825 270235 |

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