Hailsham's Gallery North has been dark since the end of October for essential maintenance work so I was extra pleased to get along to their new month-long exhibition, Art For Christmas 2012. The remarkably unChristmassy exhibition includes work by both established and emerging artists with paintings, botanical art, photography, jewellery, ceramics and textiles. There is also one room showcasing graphics, photography and illustration work by BA Graphic Design students at K College in Tonbridge.
The first work to catch my eye was a series of paper sculptures by Clive Hale. Circular and rosette-like, they are created from vintage book pages and maps and I liked this idea for recycled art. The sculptures are in the first room to the right as you enter the gallery, sharing the space with Woolcraft With Wensleydale from Bodle Street Green. There are also a couple of the wire sculptures from the previous exhibition and new wire work is on show at the top of the stairs.
Through this room to the 'front' of the building will take you to four paintings by Eastbourne artist Andrew Forrest. My favourite was the gorgeously colourful Jazz Night In Paris, a bright street scene which has great energy. As you turn to go back out again, the complete contrast of the almost monochrome Evening Light by Rachel Widdows appealed to my darker side! Foreboding ripples on on a pond are illuminated by faint rays of light crossing the dark bank background.
Upstairs and to the right, Beverley Barr has contributed several works including an interesting drawing of Hadrian's Wall. In the same room, I liked Helen Butting's deceptively simple acrylic, French Dovecote, which again used light lines to good effect, this time with shadow across a green arch door. Across the landing, there is a whole room showing the photography of David Hoad. All black and white images, I was particularly entranced by the similarities of the spiral shells on the left wall and the De La Warr staircases in the opposite corner. Great curating!
The final room, back past the top of the stairs and turn right, has the graphics exhibition. Five students have contributed work ranging from the atmospheric drawings of Felicity Price-Smith, illustrating the tragic story of the Collyer Brothers of New York, to the photography of Jon Pardoe. His Alhambra photograph gives twice in that we see the beauty of the composition as well as the beauty of the stonework itself. James Sales has three provocative prints challenging the fashion industry - they appear at first glance to be animal markings but on closer inspection resolve into guns, grenades & knives. I nearly missed fun work, again by Felicity, just by the doorway where there are pieces from her project to educate students in day to day life. I loved the washing symbol pin set.
Gallery North, Sat 1st - Sat 22nd Dec.