Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

The Many Rooms of St Andrews Mews

Markus Thonett talks to Jude Montague about his work and new exhibition at the upstairs gallery at St Andrews Mews.

4Rooms-Plus is an installation responding to the secret rooms of St Andrews Mews in Hastings. Due to a cancellation it is now also an expanded one person show. The PV is on February 1st. 6pm – 9pm, and is open any Wed, Sat. or Sun. during February between 12noon and 5pm. I am a mixed media artist using multiple processes in conversation with myself, my materials, and you, the viewer.

Initially all I was planning for was the group of four unique small rooms at the back of the Upstairs Gallery. The first time I saw them they beckoned me to respond with an installation of work laced into the fibres of this slightly spooky and timeless space. Then, just a couple of weeks, ago I was offered the entire gallery space upstairs for the duration. I feel that this string of small rooms is perfect for my varied approaches to different subjects and materials. So, rather than struggling with the limitations of this space, I find everything just falling into place naturally. It is upstairs, so slightly off the beaten track. I hope this article will call many to go a little out of their way to see some new, some old, and even some work in progress, that I’ll be working on during the exhibition.
Each process is chosen to help digest different aspects of the human experience. For example there are mirror installations, greenish paintings and card-cuts, as well as sculptures made from found objects and cast concrete. Essentially my work is an ongoing conversation. Like conversations between friends, it can jump from subject to subject. The balance between pain and joy, are recurring themes. So are the wonder of being alive and relationships. I like to gently challenge people to look at what seems familiar with new eyes.

You moved to St Leonards and Hastings only a few years ago but have done so much for the community in that short time. Could you look back on your gallery times in St Andrews Mews and tell us some highlights. I believe you had a gallery with your partner Tessa?
That’s right. Tessa and I like to work together. We have even collaborated in the making of art, combining my mixed media approach with Tessa’s fine portraiture. During the summer last year we teamed up with Alice Maylam (one of the many fabulous friends we’ve made since moving to the area less than two years ago) and ran the Blast Art Gallery in the Mews. It was really mostly Tessa’s gallery. Curating is somethig she always wanted to do, and something she is very good at. She called artists from near and far to respond to a different theme every two weeks. Hanging and running these shows was both tiring and exhilarating. My favorite aspect of this was discovering and supporting new, previously unknown, talents and mixing them up with more established artists. We focused on the quality of work rather than fitting into any particular genre.

You studied art in Dublin – now a lifetime I go I guess but I’m fascinated by that experience. Can you tell me a bit about your journey in art from Cologne to Dublin to Africa to Hastings? Please take us on a trip with you back through your geographical and artistic timeline.
Being an artist certainly is a journey. Mine started in Cologne as the middle child of the local artist couple, Will Thonett and Marianne Tralau. In my mind I was always going to be an artist. I also developed a taste for travelling early in life. I applied to Dun Laoghaire School of Art and Design and, to my surprise, got accepted. It was followed by a teaching career that had me teach drawing and sculpture in Dublin for about 17 years. At that time I exhibited in numerous shows in both Ireland and Germany and also contributed, by invitation, to the Great Book of Ireland. When I moved to the USA to be with Tessa, I also ended up teaching my own postgraduate art course to a group of philosophy/religion students in New York. Being very idealistic, Tessa and I spent an inheritance that anyone else would have put on a down-payment for a house, on a project in Cameroon, SW Africa. We lived there for about three years in the early naughties, having a very intense and extraordinary time there. But this is a different story for another time. However, I continued my studio practice there and that experience certainly very much informed and inspired my work as an artist.

What stimulates you in art right now and what are you particularly interested in that you will be exploring in this show?
What inspires me as an artist are questions about nature, people and the different ways of seeing and digesting the human experience. I use everyday objects and materials to try and ignite thought processes that may not otherwise take place, often relating to the cyclical aspect of life, but essentially its all about alternative ways of looking at the ordinary. Recycling and re-using materials is very much part of that playful process.

During the exhibition I will be working on a series of new works about local music venues, typical landmarks, and my favorite places in Hastings and St Leonards. The process I’ll be using for that is something I call card-cuts. The result is similar but not the same as that of block printing. Unlike making blocks for printing I work directly on the original piece. Come and see for yourself as I work on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays between noon and 5pm. On Thursday the 29th of February, the final day of the show, there will be a happening/performance to celebrate the extra day of 2024.

4Rooms-Plus – Markus Thonett – St Andrews Mews

February 2024


If you’re enjoying HOT and would like us to continue providing fair and balanced reporting on local matters please consider making a donation. Click here to open our PayPal donation link. Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 19:05 Wednesday, Jan 31, 2024 In: Visual Arts

Also in: Visual Arts

More HOT Stuff

    HOT is run by volunteers but has overheads for hosting and web development. Support HOT!


    Advertise your business or your event on HOT for as little as £20 per month
    Find out more…


    If you like HOT and want to keep it sustainable, please Donate via PayPal, it’s easy!


    Do you want to write, proofread, edit listings or help sell advertising? then contact us


    Get our regular digest emails

  • Subscribe to HOT