Jerwood Foundation opens doors on new Gallery for their Collection in Hastings

By Mark Sheerin | 16 March 2012
Colour photo of a view past a gallery to a beach in Hastings
Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, HAT Projects© Ioana Marinescu
Signposts at the station and in the town centre herald the new Jerwood Gallery as if it has been on the Hastings Stade all along. But first sight of the squat black-tiled façade is still a surprise. It’s not what you expect so near the arcades and the chippies.

The £4m build by HAT Projects is now home to a significant collection of 20th and 21st century art. A third of the Jerwood Collection is now on permanent display and, with work by Sickert, Burra, Lowry, and many more notables, it's something of a who’s who of modern British Painting.

It’s a neat coincidence that the holdings of Jerwood’s charitable foundation were built on the back of a pearl dealing fortune. And the late John Jerwood’s name is now on a link in the South East’s so-called ‘string of pearls’: newly built or refurbed galleries which include Pallant House, the De La Warr Pavilion, Towner, and Turner Contemporary.

Not everyone has welcomed the arrival of this jewel of a collection. The Stade is also home to Europe’s largest beach-launch fishing fleet. Jerwood Foundation Chairman Alan Grieve warns journalists to expect robust language if asking their maritime neighbours to comment.

But should any of those fishermen step inside their new arrival, they will find many links between the Collection and the region. The art features views of Ditchling, Rye and Dieppe. A sunny still life of fruit emerges as the work of onetime local John Bratby. A statuesque nude in chalk is by Frank Dobson, alumni of the Hastings School of Art.

And here in spirit, if not in practice, is the Cornish fisherman and artist Alfred Wallis. One wonders why the Gallery chose not to include the example of his work already in their Collection. But for the time being, he appears by proxy through the artists who were said to have ‘discovered’ him, such as Christopher Wood.

While the domestic scale of the upstairs galleries and the volume of figurative work, like Wood’s saucy bather, should go some way to win over sceptics. Locals pay just £2 to visit the Jerwood, worth it alone for the views from the floor to ceiling windows.

Indeed, the building makes every attempt to include the space beyond the walls. The Foreshore Gallery on the ground floor has no less than six skylights making it surely one of the most luminous art spaces in the UK. Currently in a temporary show here is another recent artworld ‘discovery’, Rose Wylie.

Her multipanel works on canvas, inspired by film, magazines and scenes of life in her Kentish garden, are no less bright and breezy than the building as a whole. And you would have to say they are both a breath of fresh air for Hastings.

Monocrhome abstracted painting of a bear and a bear's head
Rose Wylie, Black Berlin Bear's Head, 2008© Rose Wylie. Courtesy of the UNION Gallery, London and the artist
Colour oil painting of a view from a window with vases on the sill
Sir Frank Brangwyn, RA, RWS (1867-1956), From my Window at Ditchling, circa 1925© all rights reserved. Courtesy The Jerwood Collection
Abstract colour oil painting with vertical bars in shades of yellow
Paul Feiler (b. 1918), Chrome & Yellow, 1956© all rights reserved. Courtesy of the Jerwood Collection
Colour painting of a still life including flowers and fruit, seen as if from above
Anne Redpath, RSA, ARA (1895-1965), Mainly Grey & White, circa 1957© all rights reserved. Courtesy of the Jerwood Collection
Colour oil painting of a semi nude bather on the beach
Christopher Wood (1901-1930), The Bather, circa 1925-26© all rights reserved. Courtesy of the Jerwood Foundation

  • Jerwood Gallery opens on March 17. Admission £7 (£2 Hastings residents with proof of address). Open 11am-4pm Tuesday to Sunday.

Visit Mark Sheerin's contemporary art blog and follow him on Twitter.

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