The extraordinary Lewes Artwave Festival 2017 has now drawn to a close
I only had the opportunity to see a fraction of the festival due to being here, there and everywhere with our family for the holidays. What I did see however was absolutely brilliant. Here is a round-up of the venues I visited.
Venue 50 – The Old Forge in South Heighton.
First on my whistle-stop tour was Venue 50 – The Old Forge in South Heighton. This truly stunning house has been beautifully renovated by its owners Christian and Rhoda. I was drawn to so much of the art work on display – which represented a massive 20 artists – but paintings by Susan Ashworth and Emily Jolley really stood out for me, as did porcelain by Rebecca Callis and owner Christian Funnell‘s sculptures which were featured in the garden of The Old Forge. Whilst I was riveted on the artwork on display I couldn’t help but also notice the incredible views of the South Downs from the kitchen and garden, as well as the eclectic balance of mid-century and antique style within the house itself. This really was the perfect start to my Artwave trail.
Venue 4 – Firle Cottage
Next I headed over to Firle Cottage where the Shearing Family shared their work. I walked up the drive to the picturesque, white cottage and was delighted to find a bowl of plums for visitors to the house to eat. This personal touch immediately made me feel welcome and as I walked into the house I met the owner and artist Jerry Shearing who explained that he had to quickly go out to take “the fire engine” to the village fete as it was being used to “sell Pimms out of”. I popped my head out of the front door and sure enough a small vintage fire engine sat to the side of the house which I absolutely loved, an interesting touch to this already spectacular venue!
Heading back inside I so enjoyed being able to see the variety of artwork produced by several members of one talented family which included paintings, sculptures, prints and children’s books. Jerry’s own artwork was shown in a marquee in the garden (beyond the fire engine) and showed a retrospective of his work since leaving the Central School of Art.
Walking away from my visit to The Shearing Gallery and through Firle Village with the sun and gentle breeze spurring me onward I referred to my Artwave brochure. My rumbling stomach was very pleased to be informed that the possibility of lunch would await me at my next stop on the Artwave trail – Venue 6, Clergy House Art in Sheds.
Venue 6 – Clergy House, Art in Sheds.
This beautiful detached house in the village of Alciston was not only showing work by several artists but was also serving lunches of homemade quiches, salads, tea and cakes (amongst other things). The owner and artist Elaine Foster-Gandey greeted me warmly and suggested a route to take to see sculptures, ceramics and paintings by a number of artists including herself, Maggie Rothwell, Michelle Steel and Beccie Ford. Elaine herself is currently in the middle of a masters course in Brighton where she works collaboratively with other artists on shared projects. She took the time to show me her current work where she is exploring the ageing process with a focus on human fragility and imperfection. She prints photos onto canvas which she then embroiders and staines with elderberries to add to the theme of ageing. Elaine is clearly totally absorbed in her art and talks about her project with reflection and eloquence.
After viewing the artwork I sat down to a homemade asparagus and broccoli quiche in Elaine’s beautiful garden overlooking the uninterrupted views of the South Downs.
Part of me could have sat in Elaine’s garden all afternoon just enjoying the view however I was very keen to get back on the road to Laughton for my next visit.
Venue 21 – Alexander Johnson.
I was looking forward to meeting Alexander Johnson and visiting his studio as we had become acquainted online through Twitter and it was so good to meet face-to-face for the first time. Alexander’s beautiful studio sits in the garden of his house which he has been tirelessly renovating with his partner for a number of years (although he says they are still only half-way to finishing it). The studio, though, is entirely separate and as soon as I walk in the room there is a fantastic atmosphere, I immediately knew that I was in a much loved personal space. Alexander’s extraordinary paintings are on display around the room as well as sketch books and prints in a central rack however he has also surrounded himself with artefacts that hold personal significance to him to create a homely and warm atmosphere in the studio.
Alexander grew up just outside Chichester and has since lived in many places around the world. He said that he came to a point when he just had a calling to return to Sussex and has found his perfect place. It felt good to meet another person, like myself, who after moving away felt a calling to come ‘home’. Alexander was showing work from his Deanland Airfield Project which he embarked on due to a personal interest in WW2 and partly inspired by his own father’s experience as a spitfire pilot to which references can be seen in many of his stunning paintings.
Venue 18 – Modern in the Country, Victoria Albuquerque
I left Alexander to move on to Venue 18 in Halland where I not only had the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful art work of Victoria Albuquerque but I was absolutely blown away by her home ‘Bentley Wood’. A modernist building but built ahead of its time in 1938, the house is a work of art in itself.
The views over the South Downs, were again, nothing short of wondrous and it is apparent how inspired Victoria has been by the beauty of the natural world around her when looking at her work which included both dramatic and emotional paintings and embroidered silk contour maps of Sussex.
By this point it won’t surprise you to hear that I was a little bit anxious that I wouldn’t have time to squeeze many more visits in and so I dashed back out to the car to look again at my brochure for the next stop on my trail. In fact, I was running behind so much that I almost didn’t go to Venue 22, Blackbird House, however I was so keen to visit screen printer Emma Evans-Freke that I convinced myself I could squeeze it all in and hot-footed my way over.
Venue 22 – Blackbird House
I am so glad I did make the trip. Emma showed me around her idyllic house and studio herself and, of course, being ‘The Lewes Home’ I was delighted to see an array of screen-printed homewares in Emma’s range of work. Beautiful lampshades, cards and cushions were amongst her pictures which are all inspired by the natural world, and particularly wildlife around her.
I wish I could have stayed at Blackbird House longer talking to Emma and soaking up the tranquility of her gorgeous studio and company but there were two more artists I knew I had to visit back in Lewes.
Venue 74 – Anouk Emmanuel
Anouk Emmanuel at Venue 74 was the first artist I visited – just around the corner of my own home – on De Montfort Road. I have been following Anouk online for a while and was excited to see her work – especially her abstract prints of polygons which make up part of her ‘Tertiary Platforms’ collection. Origami is a particular favourite of mine and it was great to see it in the ‘flesh’.
Finally, right a the end of the day I was able to make time for my last visit on the Artwave trail, Venue 66.
Venue 66 – Andy Pointon
Andy Pointon is a secondary school teacher by day (which he loves) but his personal passion is his beautiful screen printed homeware. So obviously for me, visiting Andy in his super-stylish 1930s home was an exciting prospect!
He clearly has an eye for design as can be seen in his careful choice of colours and clean-lines in his work. I just love his Lewes tea towel, detailed and yet uncluttered, I shall certainly be adding it to my Christmas list. Good job he has a great Etsy shop which I can drop hints about in the forthcoming months!
This really was all I had time for, I had a call whilst at Andy Pointon’s house to come and attend to a miserable baby who had had quite enough of my absence!
Artwave 2017 consisted of brilliant artwork being shown across 143 venues. I might have only seen a very meagre 8 venues – which I can’t really say even scratched the surface of the festival – and I certainly left hungry for more. However, sadly, I shall have to wait for Artwave 2018 which I know will be bigger and better and next time, I will be ready!