New exhibition at 35 North – Sea Marks by Philippa Stanton

Philippa Stanton and I have worked together several times in the past – I absolutely love her work and I am constantly fascinated by her range and versatility as an artist. The first exhibition I worked on with her was called PerSona and featured her voice paintings of a whole range of well known names – from Radio 4’s wonderful Charlotte Green (voted The Most Attractive Female Voice on the Radio) to the husky tones of actress Greta Scacchi. Philippa is a synaesthetic artist and often uses this unique capacity to create beautiful abstract paintings. You can find out more here http://www.philippastanton.com/index.php/about but in a nutshell synaesthesia allows Philippa to experience sound, taste and smell in shape, colour and texture resulting in work of extraordinary depth and intensity.

Philippa’s new exhibition offers something completely different and I am so excited that she has chosen 35 North as its first home. Sea Marks captures Philippa’s emotional response to the sheer size and indifference of the ocean as well as the great human endurance and spirit experienced whilst trying to work with it. Her work incorporates the elements of the sea most significant to her – weather, fear and vastness as well as hope, beauty and calm. The exhibition comprises the whole of Philippa’s painting process including textural studies and sketches which feels very appropriate since it was a sketch that I fell in love with at her house one day that first sparked the idea of an exhibition of this work.

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Philippa will also be exhibiting her still life photographs for which she has been cultivating a global following on Instagram as her alter ego,@5ftinf. She currently has over 360,000 followers!! She describes her still life photographs as visual poetry or haiku, which develop from feelings rather than meanings and often reflect ideas she is working on within paintings.

The exhibition opens on Friday 17th October and runs until Saturday 15th November. Philippa will be at the gallery from 12 noon – 3pm on Saturday 18th October to talk about her work.

A tale of two prizes!

John and I took a fairly last minute decision to go up to London this weekend. The main aim was to see the Late Turner exhibition at Tate Britain – it was absolutely as amazing as we’d hoped it would be and John is planning to go again on a day when he doesn’t have to battle with the crowds. While we were at the Tate we thought we’d have a look at the Turner Prize……..with the knowledge that this particular prize has always courted controversy I was curious to see what would be on offer. I have to say that I didn’t love all of it (in fact there was only one piece that I really enjoyed) and comments on the board outside suggested that I wasn’t the only one:

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So the Turner Prize provokes reaction if nothing else but I came away feeling that I’d been short changed in some way and the #turnerprize Twitter feed makes interesting reading with comments from the great and the good of the art world confirming that many of them felt the same way.

In complete contrast we stumbled upon something really exciting at the Mall Galleries, a place I had never been before. The Threadneedle Prize (http://www.threadneedleprize.com) for figurative work was full of thought provoking and beautifully executed pieces and I could have spent hours there. This exhibition was also free (The Turner Prize costs £10!) and there was the opportunity to vote for a ‘visitors favourite’ award – it was a really tough job to choose……… I’d really recommend this exhibition which closes on October 11th.

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Life at 35 North……

Its hard to believe that after all the anticipation, the launch party, the open day etc, 35 North Contemporary Fine Art is now up and running! Feedback has been amazing and I love talking to all the different people who wander in throughout the day. Our programme of exhibitions is taking shape and we are now booked through to the end of 2015! Its going to be an exciting year with painters, print makers, photographers and sculptors all lined up to show their work. Our current exhibition, Images of Brighton, features John Whiting’s hugely evocative paintings of this beautiful city (I’m going to call it a city even though one very fierce visitor last week told me that in her opinion it wasn’t city and it wasn’t beautiful – each to their own I guess!) The exhibition runs until Saturday October 11th and the gallery is open on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

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Today the gallery has mostly been a film set…..

When Matt Devitt and his team contacted us to talk about the possibility of using the gallery to shoot a short film, we thought it sounded like fun. A quick bit of picture hanging at the weekend (perfect for testing out the new hanging system) gave us a feel for what its all going to look like when the first exhibition launches in September. It was also essential as the film is about an art theft! It was a long day for the crew but they got it all done and now we can’t wait to see the result…….

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We're almost there…..

So a huge thanks to our fabulous builders Phil and Jason, painter Leyton, sign writer Will the Brush, graphic designer Jane Barkway and all the friends and family who have supported us over the last few months!! We really are almost there!

Welcoming guest artists from near and far………

As I mentioned in my last post we have been opening our house to the public for the last 16 years as part of the Fiveways Artists Group. As well as John’s work we are generally joined by a number of guest artists, both local and international. This year we are delighted to be showing the sculptures and drawings of Finnish artist Johanna Häiväoja and French artist François Blosseville as well as collages by Brighton based artist Will Turner. The festival is almost at an end and I have been meaning to post pictures of their fabulous work for days…………well here we go, better late than never and you still have this weekend to visit if you have a chance!!

End of an era

While 35 North will be our very first experience of gallery ownership we, or rather John, has been showing his work for over 20 years now. His first exhibition was as part of a group show at Wattis Fine Art in Hong Kong in 1993. The gallery was pretty new at the time and it’s great to see that it is still going strong http://www.wattis.com.hk

When we moved to Sydney the Fred Fink Gallery offered John his first one man show – Google tells me that there is still a Fred Fink Gallery in Lavender Bay, Sydney but there doesn’t seem to be any evidence of a website…..I would really love to know what Fred is up to, he was a real character and a painter himself and the private view was a riot!

Since moving to Brighton exhibitions have been held at home as part of the Fiveways Artists Group, initially under the umbrella of the Brighton Festival and latterly as part of the Artists Open Houses Festival. We have opened the house to the public every May (well apart from last May when we had a year off!) since 1999 often sharing the house with really talented guest artists. Its been amazing to meet the extraordinary variety of visitors who have come though our doors. I have loved catching up with the people who come back year after year so it is with mixed feelings that we have decided that this year will be our last. Once 35 North opens, exhibitions will be held there so here’s a pic of us at the start of the very last Private View at our home……………
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The Bread Street Irregulars

The property we have bought, which houses our future gallery and the flat above it, is on the corner of North Road and Bread Street in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine. We have reinstated the Bread Street address for the flat (a surprisingly simple process involving an email exchange with the local council!) and thought we would investigate a little of the history of the street hence the title of this post, The Bread Street Irregulars.

A little online research led us to the North Laine Community Association website and a fascinating article written by John Christopher Travers. It appears that far from being a street full of bakers (as we had naively assumed) the history of Bread Street is far less salubrious……..

In the early to mid 19th century, Church Street (which runs parallel to North Road and would originally have been linked to it by Bread Street) and its environs were notorious! According to historical accounts the entire area was inhabited by ‘beggars, drunkards, prostitutes and thieves and in 1860 alone, 97 brothels were counted, along with 300 prostitutes’. In fact the whole area was an almighty jumble of slums, crumbling houses and murkey alleys making it a den of vice and the centre of the criminal underworld.

In 1862 Father Arthur Wagner, an amazing character and the person to whom Constance Kent finally confessed her crime (Constance killed her half brother Samuel Kent, the story was the basis for The Suspicions of Mr Whicher: The Murder at Road Hill House by Kate Summerscale) built a small mission church in Bread Street. It was a simple red brick affair, with whitewashed walls and a wooden roof. Father Wagner named it the Church of St Mary and St Magdalene.

There are still word-of-mouth traditions that insist that Bread Street became a kind of refuge for some of those 300 ladies of the town, once plying their trade in the slums, who are said to have moved into the mildly more genteel surroundings of Bread Street itself.

Although licensed for church worship, St Mary and St Mary Magdalene was never consecrated. Perhaps this turned out to be helpful, as Father Wagner had a reputation for kindness that sometimes went beyond the usual…….. It appears his little church sometimes became a doss house for the temporary homeless, where he provided soup and bread and a few mattresses too.

Father Wagner also used to walk through the streets in the surrounding area, ringing a handbell, rather optimistically summoning prospective worshippers to prayer. At least some of the ‘Bread Street Irregulars’ (as the ladies were sometimes described) would have heard and heeded the call and so dropped in for the occasional service. The church muddled through into the following century but soon became derelict. It was finally demolished as late as 1963.

Bread Street itself was not far behind in the demolishing stakes and apart from our building on the corner and Rin Tin Tin directly opposite, nothing remains of notorious Bread Street! Image

 

Our first piece of art!

While we were waiting for work to start on the building a rather fabulous piece of art work appeared over night! We have no idea who did it but we loved it! The boards have come down from the windows now but the first piece of art to be featured at 35 North will always hold a special place in our hearts!Image

The start of our journey…….

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Tuesday 25th February 2014 and we have just received the keys to 35 North Road. For those who may have seen the post on Facebook this was the moment when our dream started to become a reality – the dream of one day opening a gallery in the heart of the city that we love. It’s both exciting and terrifying in equal measure but as my friend Jo says “If you don’t do it, you’ll never know what would’ve happened if you had done it! After all, what’s the worst that can happen?” So with these words ringing in our ears we will be putting our hearts and souls into bringing 35 North Contemporary Fine Art to life………..
We have never blogged before (so we’ll be very much feeling our way) but neither have we ever taken on a project of this magnitude so we thought a blog might be a good way for us to chart this exciting process and share it with our family, friends and beyond.
At this stage our posts will be slightly retrospective as things have been moving so fast that we are a little late in getting this whole blog thing started but hopefully we’ll soon catch up……