Galleries - January 2011

NEW ART FOR OLD By the 1990s Hastings had long since swapped picturesque mid- dle class seaside gentility for de- pressing DSS decay. Then those great colonisers, space-seeking, economy-minded artists, started to move in and a new Bohemia by the sea had begun. So much so that by 2003, when the Hastings Arts Forum established itself, they quickly racked up an astonishing membership of 600. A very active and well-organised 600 too, for in that very short time they have opened their own HQ with two distinct exhibition spaces and a full programme of exhibitions. These are mostly of members’ work, though like the forum’s stated aims, they also go on to encompass and support the arts in the area on a much wider co-operative basis. Their latest show is a good example. Entitled simply ‘The Recycling Exhibition’, it includes not only the work of 15 members, using a huge variety of otherwise landfill-bound materials, but also the outcomes of some really enterprising schemes devised by designer Stewart Walton and the young people under his direction at the Hastings and Bexhill Wood Recycling Project. No room to go into this last in detail, except to say that they produced thous- ands of stunningly designed wooden Christmas trees for Conran shops. Google them and visit the show itself – you won’t be disappointed. ged competition of students from the Prince’s Drawing School, a selection from Chichester’s exce- llent Open Art Competition and a large programme of classical and jazz concerts in the café, it appears sprightlier than ever. INSIDE-OUT Regular readers will be well aware by now of the youthful and vibrant visual arts scene emerging in Bristol over recent years. Inter- estingly though, it is not the city’s apparent cutting-edge space, the Arnolfini, that’s giving it the nec- essary house-room but that one-time staid ‘old lady’ of the Bristol art-scene, the Royal West of England Academy . In 2009 they put on a major show of the city’s exuberant urban art profile, Banksy et al (Street Art April 09), and now they are picking up their skirts once more with a show that draws proper attention to Bristol’s dynamic studio scene, in particular the Jamaica Street Artists. Founded in the late 80s and now one of the largest artist-led studio complexes outside London, many of its members are now achieving both national and international recog- nition (eg Mark Kidel’s film portrait of Bill Viola, showing here, is a first) and this excitingly-conceived show, entitled ‘Inside-Out’, (Mat- isse’s découpages, ‘Drawing with Scissors’, in the other half adds to the fun) gives both organisations a marvellous opportunity to reach new audiences. ANTENNAE 6. GALLERIES JANUARY 11 UPWARDS & ONWARDS While there seems little doubt that high end art has, if anything, boomed in the fall-out from the financial crisis (investment and all that) and entry level art, repre- sented most conspicuously per- haps by the Affordable Art fran- chise (see p8) seems, almost by definition, fail-safe, elsewhere the picture still remains far from clear. So it is good to hear such bullish noises emanating from both of those long-standing fixtures of the middle ground, the London Art Fair (19-23 January) and the Watercolours & Works on Paper Fair (3-6 February). The former seems to have a full house of stands again, with its more experi- mental ‘Art Projects’ section up a further 6 exhibitors on last year’s 25, not to mention the ongoing ‘Photo50’ project and an exhi- bition organised with the Fair’s charitable partner, Maggie’s. Entitled ‘Maggie’s Art of Hope’, it will raise funds for this vibrant cancer care and support charity via an auction of work by leading artists, to be held on the preview night (18th). Meanwhile ‘Water- colours & Works on Paper’ are returning to the same venue which proved so successful last year – the Science Museum. This has be- come a particularly lively event and this year, with a special exhibition dedicated to the evolu- tion of those two iconic 40s railway posters, Helen McKie’s ‘Images of War and Peace at Waterloo Station’, a special, jud-