CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Lancashire Life today CLICK HERE

Artist, Dawn Gabrielle Chandler captures the Lake District in a box

PUBLISHED: 00:00 21 August 2014

Artist, Dawn Gabrielle Chandler in her studio

Artist, Dawn Gabrielle Chandler in her studio


An artist from Gatebeck has found a new and intriguing way of capturing the essence of her favourite Lakeland places, as Sue Riley reports

Rydal- The valley where rye was grownRydal- The valley where rye was grown

Most artists strive not to be stereotyped and put in a box but that’s exactly what Dawn Gabrielle Chandler is hoping for with her new series of paintings of some of the Lake District’s most popular towns and villages. Her Kendal street scenes have sold well over the years but now Dawn is capturing her favourite places in a different way – by painting still life items on shelves and in wooden boxes.

Her picture of Rydal contains a shelf full of poetry books, porcelain sheepdogs, narcissi and a badger to represent the popular Badger Bar in the hamlet. Another, of Troutbeck, has a yellow plastic duck referencing the popular annual duck race and dominoes representing the strong community Dawn found there when she started her research. And her painting of Grasmere acknowledges the village’s literary history with lots of books by Wordsworth, Coleridge and Southey.

‘Rather than doing a picture of Rydal itself I wanted to do something a bit different, I want to depict an area, it’s a great way of getting a message out there, rather than it just being a still life it says more and there’s more scope to have fun with it,’ she says. ‘I am trying to get almost a stained glass feel to it.’

Troutbeck- A Westmorland VillageTroutbeck- A Westmorland Village

Her picture of Kendal contains references to Farrers coffee roasters, Webb’s lettuce (the nursery where it originated is now the site of Marks & Spencer), the castle, K Shoes and of course mint cake. But at first glance it’s not all evident, you have to look into the painting and explore it. ‘I couldn’t put everything in, it’s just my take on it. People can work it out for themselves, not everything is spelled out,’ says Dawn. ‘I love doing the shelf pictures, they are visual metaphors. My street scenes looked too much like a photograph for me.’

Working in gouache, she concentrates on one picture at a time. Once she’s thought of a theme she will spend weeks drawing out a plan, researching and making notes. Then she creates the still life in her studio, her favourite part of the process. Using a cardboard box to make the shelving, she raids her Robert Stubbs’ dolls’ house for miniature items to fill it with. ‘I can spend hours pushing things round with a pencil getting things just so, I wonder if I’ve ever grown up, I love miniatures,’ she says. When she’s finally happy she starts to paint.

Much of her spare time is spent in her studio above the garage of their detached cottage in Gatebeck, near Kendal. In one corner is a former display unit full of old shoes which used to be in her father-in-law’s shop. Those shoes provided Dawn with the confidence to develop her own artistic style when she started painting them a decade ago and people liked them. The shoe pictures sold at local exhibitions and she went on to paint several antique pairs in Kendal’s Abbot Hall Gallery’s collection which are rarely on show to the public. A year later Dawn was accepted into the prestigious Lake Artists Society, quite a coup as it is limited to just 45 artists working in Cumbria.

Detail in the piece SizerghDetail in the piece Sizergh

Although she’s sold a few dozen pictures – her shoes have been particularly popular selling for between £150-300 at local shows and in London where her work has been exhibited – she’s hoping her shelf images which go on display at this year’s Lake Artists Society shows will also be popular, although in a higher price range at £600.

A practising artist since she left art college in Carlisle in the 1980s, Dawn feels she has finally found her niche. She says she could probably be a full-time artist if she continued with her popular street scenes, commissions and portraits but is having to fund her change of artistic direction by working part time as a cleaner at Windermere School, fitting it in around family life with her husband Scott and teenage twins.

‘The local street scenes sell quite well, they are the bread and butter pictures, but I have tended to stop doing them. It’s not about the money for me, it’s about the work I want to do. I probably could give up the cleaning if I did bread and butter paintings but it’s more important I am doing things I want to do.’

Dawn Gabrielle Chandler’s unique take on what Kendal means to herDawn Gabrielle Chandler’s unique take on what Kendal means to her

Dawn will exhibit her shelf and box paintings at the Lake Artists Society’s winter exhibition at Rheged, Penrith, from November to February.


Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Lancashire Life visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Lancashire Life staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Lancashire Life account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from Out & About

Having 10,000 students on the doorstep is helping this West Lancashire town centre to thrive

Read more

In 1972, a hoard of ancient silver coins was discovered in Prestwich. These days, they’re hoping to strike gold with an unbeatable mix of community, creativity and independent shops but for one craftsperson, silver is still the way to go.

Read more
Friday, October 12, 2018

Pendle Hill is one of the most iconic landmarks in Lancashire and you can enjoy the beautiful countryside, spectacular views and fascinating from a number of starting points in the Ribble Valley.

Read more
Pendle Hill Ribble Valley Walks
Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Our walks expert John Lenehan plots a scenic course that also provides a little Lancashire history.

Read more

Steps are being taken to bridge the divides that have grown between communities and made Blackburn one of the most segregated towns in the country.

Read more
Monday, October 8, 2018

With the countryside turning stunning shades of red and gold, this is probably the best time to pull on your boots and go for a heavenly hike.

Read more
Lake District Walks Autumn

There is always something surprising in this old Lancashire village which attracts visitors from across the world

Read more
Thursday, October 4, 2018

Many youngsters their age are content to play with their toys, but a Bowness brother and sister are happiest in their walking boots.

Read more
Thursday, September 27, 2018

Britain’s biggest independent flower show attracts huge crowds and the admiration of BBC celebrities

Read more
Wednesday, September 26, 2018

When it was announced The Willow Garden Project in Fleetwood was to be the recipient of BBC North West Garden created for The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) Tatton Flower Show, there were cheers all round.

Read more
Friday, September 21, 2018

The first ever National GetOutside Day takes place on Sunday 30 September with the aim of getting 1 million people active outdoors across the UK.

Read more

Meet some of the devilishly successful people who make this glorious Ribble Valley town tick.

Read more
Friday, September 14, 2018

The site was designated Lancashire’s first ever ‘Local Nature Reserve’ in 1968 and is also designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

Read more
Wednesday, September 12, 2018

A striking sculpture attracts John Lenehan to this circular walk through some oustanding scenery.

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Subscribe or buy a mag today

Local Business Directory

Property Search