Galleries - August 2015

the Valley group (see Tavistock Town Hall), an association of some 160 artists based in and around the Tamar Valley which divides Devon and Cornwall (and famously celebrated in the great Turner landscape‘Crossing the Brook’, 1815). Founded in 2002 with the intention of drawing wider public attention to the area – regeneration again, under another name – this has also acted as a support group for the many artists living in the area, with lectures, talks and meetings as well as exhibitions throughout the year. This month is a particularly busy one with members showing at the Tavistock Annual Exhibition (5 to 9 August), a splendid showcase for the artistic riches of the area, to be followed later in the month by their own open studios event (29 August to 6 September) with some 90 members participating. There’s also a handsomely produced 68 page catalogue to guide you round, obtainable via their comprehensive website. Further east up the coast is Bridport which seems to be an almost continual hive of artistic interest these days. This month, sees the Bridport & West Dorset Open Studios 2015 (22 to 31 August) swing into action with some 70 artists from the town and 10 mile radius. Founded in 1999 it is becoming increasingly professional in outlook, also with a full time event co-ordinator, well produced booklet and informative, well designed designed newer buildings to house participating artists and designers. With some nice cafés, bars and restaurants as well, this is intelligent thinking and great fun too – just 57 minutes from St.Pancras! It is also, seemingly, spreading its influence to the near vicinity with galleries like Linden Hall Studio opening last year in nearby Deal, following a four year restoration programme of this handsome 1775 former chapel. A large, nicely contemporary space on two floors, a recent sculpture show is now being followed by a summer exhibition of paintings, drawings and contemporary glass. Even individual artists appear to be encouraged by all this activity – somewhat further inland, at Boughton Monchelsea near Maidstone, the well-known and very popular printmaker Graham Clarke now opens his studio on a regular basis most summer weekends. Open Season This really is high season for open studio events around the country. In our Scottish supplement feature we have mentioned the Isle of Arran and Pittenweem programmes – and here I’d like to draw your attention to three more in the south and west, all of them situated in beautiful landscapes. Starting furthest west there is the very professionally run Drawn to 12 GALLERIES AUGUST 2015 Eastern Revival A decade or so ago good art galleries in East Kent could be counted on one hand. Now you’d need both hands and both feet and it still wouldn’t be nearly enough. And it has not all been down to the Turner Contemporary effect either, for while this unquestionably helped, there was also a perfect storm of contributing factors, notably a high speed train service, cutting journey times to London in half and bringing in young creatives looking for affordable properties. Possibly even more significant is the advent of Folkestone’s Creative Quarter in 2002. This remarkable initiative, basically the redevelopment of two streets in the Old Town close to the harbour for galleries and other artistic enterprises, was set in motion by the town’s native businessman, Sir Roger de Haan, son of the Saga Group founder. Together with his well regarded Folkestone Triennale for contemporary art, it has formed a key plank in a creativity- lead regeneration of what had become, post-Eurostar, a very run down seaside town. The two thoroughfares involved are The Old High Street, with some 11 galleries in a 200 metre stretch, many of them artist-run, and Tontine Street with a similar number. Together they hum with life and bustle, a clever mix of mostly refurbished older shop fronts and a few, carefully ANTENNAE