Hastings Contemporary – new era dawns on local arts scene

News that The Jerwood Gallery will be relaunched this summer as Hastings Contemporary has been given a warm reception by the new gallery’s Artist Patron Sir Quentin Blake.

Artist and Hastings resident Sir Quentin said: “I could never have imagined, many years ago when I bought my ancient house in Hastings, that one day there would be an art gallery a few minutes’ walk away at the end of the street; brilliantly contemporary but at the same time harmonising with its unique site on The Stade. Nor that it would have such a perceptive and skilled director as Liz Gilmore. Her ambitions for the gallery and her enterprising programme of exhibitions has given a new attraction and interest to Hastings and those who live there; and, more personally, she has inspired me to set about a new range of exploratory work that I might otherwise never have embarked on.” Sir Quentin Blake, Artist Patron of Hastings Contemporary

The Hastings Contemporary will launch on July 6th with a major presentation by international contemporary painter Tal R, alongside British artist, Roy Oxlade.

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Artist Patron Sir Quentin Blake and Director Liz Gilmore.

The relaunch, and dropping of the ‘Jerwood’ name, will mean that the gallery will lose most of its 300-strong collection of modern British art. The change comes after a dispute with its sponsor, the Jerwood Foundation which paid for the construction of the gallery which cost £4m to construct and opened in 2012.

The dispute became public in February when the foundation – which has provided £2.6m of funding since the museum opened – was said to be unhappy at the local management’s failure to raise more money from other sources. Among the 300 artworks that will be lost to the gallery are pieces by artists including LS Lowry, Barbara Hepworth and Stanley Spencer.

Looking to the future Gallery Director Liz Gilmore says: “Hastings Contemporary will bring vibrant, museum-quality art to Hastings.”

The Hastings Contemporary has received an anonymous donation of £250,000 that it says will, ‘be the start a new phase of philanthropic support’.

In 2017, the gallery became an independent charity and received a £400,000 grant from Arts Council England for a four year period.

The opening programme will feature new works by the contemporary international painter, Tal R, alongside the acclaimed British painter, Roy Oxlade, and works by Oxlade’s tutor David Bomberg. All these artists are credited with influencing generations of painters.

As part of the relaunch, Sir Quentin will present a series of new drawings. Later programming will include works by Varda Caivano, Anne Ryan and Victor Willing. A full programme of activity will be announced later in the year.

Ms Gilmore said: “Hastings Contemporary will bring vibrant, museum-quality art to Hastings. We want to encourage new ways of looking – contrasting historical works with today’s artists, showing works in a range of media, and celebrating both national and international practitioners. Our programme will take advantage of the entire building, and we are thrilled at the prospect of inviting ever wider audiences to come and experience art by the sea.

“We are delighted to have secured a generous donation in support of the opening of Hastings Contemporary. The support of Jerwood Foundation and Hastings Borough Council (HBC) and more recently, Arts Council England, has enabled a remarkable institution to come to life over the last seven years, in a beautiful setting, and we’re all excited about its future.”

HBC leader Peter Chowney says: “Jerwood Gallery has become a well-established attraction in Hastings. It has been a cornerstone of the borough’s cultural regeneration programme, helping to establish Hastings as one of the key cultural centres of the south coast. I welcome its relaunch as the newly-independent Hastings Contemporary gallery and look forward to its future programme of exciting and challenging art, to draw attention to Hastings and the vibrant creative culture that has become the hallmark of our town.”

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2 thoughts on “Hastings Contemporary – new era dawns on local arts scene

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  1. It would be nice if we could have a coffee in the cafe without having to pay an entrance fee to get in – this would make the gallery a more user friendly place to visit. Why should visitors have to pay an entrance fee if all they want is a cup of coffee and a snack. Always thought this was a bit mean. The De la Warr pavilion seems to have worked this out…no entrance fee…lots of lovely coffee etc available…and free to wander around viewing exhibits…visitors are invited to make a donation. And its always busy in there.

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