The 2012 annual schools exhibition at the Towner Gallery is an exploration what makes local children proud of their community, their town and their culture. The title is a bit misleading as not all the work is Eastbourne based - the nearly one thousand children involved in making the artworks are from twenty schools including Seaford Head and Pevensey & Westham Primary amongst others.
The ground floor exhibition hall has been transformed with huge - and I mean huge - paper rolls unfurling down the walls and across the floor. Each roll is from a specific school where pupils have covered with their impressions of their local community. There is also a selection of local adult artworks from the Towner collection on the opposing wall, all of which are interesting in their own right, but most are overwhelmed but the wealth of ideas on the rolls. I am going to pick out a few that particularly caught my eye but I am sure that if I returned, I would realise I had missed out other great works. I think visitors could easily spend a good hour just in this one room of the Towner.
The Lindfield School roll is striking in black and white and includes a panel that is reminiscent of a John Virtue work (also on show in the exhibition) showing small landscape sketches mosaic-ed together into a large image. I think the John Virtue might have been included in last year's Obsessive Compulsive Repetitive exhibition but am not totally sure.
Bishop Bell also chose to work in black and white and took the juxtaposition of humanity and nature as their theme. The complicated roll shows a variety of images including ideas such as plants reclaiming abandoned buildings and I thought this was one of the most interesting offerings.
Pevensey & Westham Primary went to the other extreme and their roll is pure colour. Rainbows, suns, skies, trees, buildings; the sheer exhuberance of this roll grabbed me from half a room away and it is great fun.
The roll that defined the exhibition for me was created by Shinewater Primary and I thought that this was the one that truly showed pride in a community. A bold title announcing 'This is Shinewater' and strictly colour coded sections made their roll stand out. There is a beautiful lake high up on the wall. Below the lake are two panels, one red & orange, the other blue & yellow, and both are created with small pictures placed together as in the John Virtue work referenced earlier. The final segment, spread across the floor towards the viewer is an amazing photographic collage, primarily in the school colours but including ideas as diverse as chickens, the school logo on a wall, and partial faces.
This is Eastbourne, This is ... is at the Towner Gallery from 12th May to 10th June.