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Val Flack

Val Flack

A Murmuration of artists

Bexhill is well known for its distinguished De La Warr Pavilion, but isn’t necessarily recognised for its galleries. However, Bexhill may be stirring its creative stumps. There is a recently opened gallery, Murmurations and where one treads more may follow. Intrigued by the name Murmurations, HOT’s Lauris Morgan-Griffiths went along to see what was what.

It took a little while to find the gallery. It’s in a street parallel to the front between Sackville and Devonshire Road. I thought I might have missed it, but then at the Sackville Road end there’s a colour striped door with a metal sculpture of a cloud of starlings erupting out of the word, Murmurations.

Marie-Eve Etcheverry

Marie-Eve Etcheverry

Its owner Joe Nguyen moved from London to Bexhill five years ago. He deliberately picked Bexhill because he reckoned Hastings and St Leonards were afloat with galleries and artists, whereas Bexhill, he felt, needed a boost. “I wanted to make a difference and help regenerate the town”. Joe is the business brain behind the venture, but is open to artists and their work and will try his utmost to accommodate any ideas.

Nguyen did not dive straight into the art pond; he started first with a craft shop called Starlings and began introducing local artists. After a while the artists were clamouring for more space and so Nguyen pledged he would open a gallery.

It’s taken three years and a complete refurbishment of a nearby property to oblige, creating a flexible gallery space. Nguyen has made his or, rather his gallery’s presence, felt, and has been met with an encouraging response – artists have declared themselves interested, wanting to be involved and, gratifyingly, the artists groups attached to the Towner and the DLWP have shown their support.

The first show, Bringing into Being, was curated by artist Sally Meakins and featured nine artists. They had respectable sales which is, I think, a marker that there are buyers out there who want to see and aquire interesting art.

Diana Costin

Diana Costin

The second show of 31 artists is unashamedly a commercial show, but that is not to say there is not good work. Amelia von Harrack has photographed the bulbous round bottom of a sound mirror keeping watch over the sea. She has exhibited both at the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert and is embarking on a photographic project of sea defences around the country. Val Flack has painted a vibrant, figurative painting; Diana Costin a meditative abstract painting that draws you in to mirage-like colours; Frank Francis’ a Winter Hut stands solitary in the snow; Chris Haskell colourful abstracts. And there is sculpture: Rachel Hoath’s ghostly glass sculpture of net huts and, much championed by Nguyen, Tomoyuki Usuda and his abstract ceramics.

Certainly, Nguyen and his team are artist friendly. Nguyen’s intention is to support artists, to showcase their work and help them grow creatively. The gallery is not exclusive to members, although it is designed as a cooperative. Membership is £50 a year which gives a reduced commission rate of 20% on sales (most galleries are 30%) and one week’s free exhibition, shared with three other members.

Penny Hobson

Penny Hobson

The gallery certainly has potential as well as great enthusiasm.  Joe Nguyen has great ambitions and is definitely on the side of the artists. From the viewing of the Open Winter Show I think they can raise their game. Some of the artists stand out and there are evidently interesting creatives around the area. How it pans out, who knows? It is a space worth watching.

Murmurations Gallery, 17a Parkhurst Road, Bexhill-on-Sea, TN40 1DE is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.30am – 4.30 pm and Sundays 11am-4 pm.

Posted 12:33 Friday, Dec 11, 2015 In: Arts News

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