Tuesday, 12 March 2013

East Sussex Open (art)

I blogged about Submissions to the Towner Gallery's East Sussex Open exhibition way back in November last year so I was excited to attend the preview last Friday (8th Mar) and discover which works have been chosen. We were told that 220 artists had submitted pieces and 38 had been successful. I like that there is a high proportion of three-dimensional work this year and 24 of the artists are women which was great to see on International Women's Day! Curator Sanna Moore explained the high pressure selection process, that the three curators viewed five slides of every single work submitted, discussed and decided upon the ones they wanted, and the whole process took place over just two days - with lots of coffee!

On my initial sweep of the gallery, my immediate favourites were both themed around lace but of very different types! Teresa Whitfield has drawn vintage lace with every detail perfectly reproduced. Her images are ink on paper, but you have to peer very closely to be sure of this as it looks just like real vintage lace at first glance. My other lace choice is Limb by Vanessa Knott. This is a tree branch which has been completely obscured with red strawberry laces sweets. Sanna said that Vanessa had spent two days in the gallery hand-tying each lace around the branch to complete her work. One of the important features for me is the delicate scent of strawberries that surrounds you as you read the notice. In common with The Forked Forest Path by Olafur Eliasson, the 'star' of the recent Bon Hiver exhibition, I found that the scent really added to the piece and I hope this is an attribute that the Towner will continue to consider in the future.

Back to drawing and Anthony Felton's pencil portrait, Jess, particularly caught my eye. It is just by Chris Hawkins' adorable silver Suit Of Armour For A Small Bird. Hermione Allsopp is exhibiting in the Open for the third year running and her Field Of Dreams is the major work spread across the floor on the left side of the gallery. I think I like this. I definitely like the blend of colours and items but I'm not sure I totally got what Hermione was saying with it. Return visit required! Grace Powell has three works included, the most striking of which - A Murder Of Crows - I found to be reminiscent of the scene from Headlong Theatre's Earthquakes in London when the nannies turn into birds. That was frightening too! For me, the most emotional of the three was Spinsters which is three felted dolls lying 'gathering dust' on the shelves of a model dresser, the cupboard of which contains felted eggs. This work tied in with the photography of Tina Marie Reid. Tina is unable to have children so has created photography featuring herself with a doll in the place of a child. The two at the Towner are entitled Bluebells and Birthday and are very poignant.

Towner Gallery, Sat 9th Mar to Sun 28th Apr.
Tue - Sun, 10:00-17:00.
Free admission.

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