Galleries - June 2016

J o Sweeting ‘Shul Blockhead’ 2014 35 North Contemporary Fine Art JUNE 2016 GALLERIES 25 rt Not that long ago the South coast was something of a desert as far as the visual arts were concerned. The ‘London effect’ was usually invoked to explain it – if you wanted to see the proper, quality stuff that’s where you went. Not any longer –- with the emergence of what has, somewhat poetically, been described as ‘the string of pearls’ – Pallant House in Chichester, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, the Folkestone Triennial and the Turner Contemporary in Margate – proving that if it’s good enough, people will always travel. Following closely in their wake is a number of increasingly sophisticated commercial spaces; in Chichester for example, where Candida Stevens Fine Art has been setting high standards for her shows of 20th century and Contemporary British Art. In May it was ‘A Month of Modern’ with post-war abstraction by the likes of Roger Hilton, Ivon Hitchins, Ceri Richards and Kenneth Armitage, while June promises, appropriately enough in this Shakespeare moment, an exhibition of more contemporary work in a storytelling mode. Entitled ‘The Story in Art’, artists of the calibre of Pippa Blake (also artist in residence at the Chichester Festival Theatre and showing a large triptych at nearby Pallant House), Ron King, Alice Kettle and Chris Orr RA are invited to “show how artists explore, interpret and tell a visual tale.” That’s good curatorship! Meanwhile at Pallant House there’s just time to catch their impressive show of John Piper’s textiles ‘The Fabric of Modernism’. Moving eastwards along the coast – not forgetting to look in on Wilfred Cass’s great 1980s trendsetter, the eponymous Cass Sculpture Foundation with its idyllic setting on the slopes of the South Downs outside Goodwood – you head, almost inevitably, for the delights of Regency Brighton. Don’t miss Brighton Museum & Art Gallery, tucked in the back of the exotic Royal Pavilion, with a very good permanent collection and exhibition programme. Brighton has some excellent and enterprising commercial galleries too, like the recently established 35 North Contemporary Fine Art in the picturesque North Laines – their June show features contemporary fine art prints by three women artists from the area, Jo Sweeting’s abstracts, Julia White’s botanical themes and Jude Clynick’s local subjects. Further along the coast again, check out two Modernist gallery buildings, the super contemporary Towner in Eastbourne, and the great ‘30s pioneering structure, the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill. The latter, a work of art in itself, has been beautifully restored and always has good shows. Not to be outdone, once faded Hastings down the road has also become something of an artistic powerhouse these days; colonised by artists attracted by handsome and cheap Regency buildings, the arrival of the impressive and award winning Jerwood Gallery in 2012 on the foreshore by the picturesque old fishermens’ huts, has galvanised the place with some fine loan shows – the current one, ‘Unknown Countries,’ a retrospective dedicated to the late, great Prunella Clough, is no exception. Meanwhile the current artistic creativity of this eccentric town is superbly represented by the go- ahead Gallery at Hastings Arts Forum , back along the genteel suburban sea front of St Leonards-on-Sea. Just across the border to Deal, and a very good commercial gallery, Linden Hall Studio , which opened in 2014 after a four year conversion of this 18th century chapel. Top notch contemporary shows too like the June offering, entitled ‘Long Friendships’ and featuring well regarded abstract painters Geoff Rigden, Mick Blake and Rob Welch. Riches all the way! NU South coast ‘. . . if it’s good enough people will always travel’