Galleries - July 2016

22 CORNWALL AND WEST COUNTRY GALLERIES JULY 2016 art West Country arts across the region While possessing nothing like the density of galleries to be found in Cornwall, the South Devon and Dorset coastline does have an increasing number of excellent public and commercial venues as well as something of an explosion of major open studios, including Drawn to the Valley who have their Open Studios’ pre exhibition in Tavistock Town Hall this month. And while there is no Tate St Ives here there are nonetheless some enterprising public galleries; for example, the very well run Royal Albert Memorial Museum & Art Gallery in Exeter, this month, appropriately enough, given over to all things floral with special exhibitions featuring both the International Garden Photographer of the Year and ‘Flower Power’ – 19th century botanical illustrations from India. Meanwhile the consistently imaginative Thelma Hulbert Gallery in Honiton, gives full expression to the burgeoning contemporary artistic creativity of the area with its THG Summer Open 2016 – some 93 pieces selected from a record breaking entry – and selected to a very impressive standard. On to the stunning East Devon coast, the galleries come thick and fast with, first up, the long- established Marine House at Beer , with selections of work from over 100 national and regional artists, crafts always on display and often a major solo show too. Moving across the county boundary into Dorset, is the intensely picturesque, ‘foody’ seaside town of Lyme Regis. It now has an artistic focus to match, with the comparatively recent advent of the Town Mill Galleries , two handsome adjoining spaces, the Courtyard and Malthouse Galleries, run year round by a not-for-profit, membership funded organisation, Town Mill Arts, within a larger Town Mill complex. This is just such a great venue, the shows, by largely regionally based artists, all to such a high standard. For example, at the end of the month, Deborah Wood of the much lamented Art Room in Topsham (now operating as an online gallery), is curating a show entitled ‘Expression’ featuring three extremely distinguished artists with close connections to the region, veteran, landscape- based abstract painters John Hubbard and Patrick Jones and ceramicist Chris Prindl, all with connections to the USA. Further east along the coast is the village of Morecombelake and Artwave West, a really attractive space converted from a former pub in 2009 by owners Martin and Donna Goold. This well run gallery is to be admired for the way they have kept up the artistic standards here – not so easy always in such a particularly tourist-dominated place – with work by leading exhibitors at the Royal Academy and Mall Galleries in London, alongside younger professionals and a nice mix of figurative and abstract styles. Their June/July special show for example, ‘Responses in Colour’, features the work of five well established colouristic painters, among them the superb Cornish-based landscape artist Louise McLary. This coast’s central artistic hub is arguably Bridport, and the gallery that has done as much as any to put the area on the map artistically is Sladers Yard. This is really more of an art centre than just a gallery, it was founded in the early Noughties and exhibits excellent contemporary British art, furniture and craft as well as running a programme of live evening events. Their current shows, of painter Alex Lowery and 80 year old ceramicist, Richard Batterham, are typical; Lowery’s cool, subtle visions of this coast and its settlements are intensely atmospheric and poetic in character, Batterham’s ceramics just plain distinguished. Nicholas Usherwood ‘an increasing number of excellent venues’ a bove Patrick Jones ‘Irish Reverie’ Town Mill Galleries