Hastings Contemporary director ‘overwhelmed’ with support in gallery’s first month

Hastings Contemporary director Liz Gimore
Hastings Contemporary director Liz Gimore

The team behind the Hastings Contemporary says it was ‘overwhelmed’ with the support it received ahead of its opening last month.

The gallery opened its doors for the first time to the public on Saturday, July 6.

Victor Willing Self Portrait, 1957, oil on canvas � The Artist's Estate

Victor Willing Self Portrait, 1957, oil on canvas � The Artist's Estate

In the week leading up to the opening, the gallery welcomed more than 1,000 guests to various launch events including children and schools, the local community, members and donors, and even a royal visit when His Royal Highness the Duke of Gloucester expressed a personal interest in the opening of the gallery. The official opening was led by Sir Nicholas Serota, chairman of Arts Council England.

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Portrait of Victor Willing � The Artist's Estate

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Liz Gilmore, director of Hastings Contemporary, said: “We were overwhelmed by the support of our industry peers, galleries and artists who have played such an important part in our journey so far. As a charity, we rely on the continued support of our members, patrons and donors and we were so pleased to be able to say thank you to those individuals at the gallery with various special private views of the exhibitions.”

Once open to the public, the gallery held a special ‘Free Tuesday’ on the evening July 9 which saw over 400 visitors through the door to watch a bespoke performance by the talented teachers and pupils from Hastings School of Contemporary Dance.

Hastings Contemporary will host a number of special events throughout the summer including creative workshops and storytelling from Hastings Storytelling Festival, professional writing workshops from Hastings Litfest, two illustrated lectures on the work of David Bomberg, and the monthly ‘First Free Tuesdays’ which allows free entry for all every first Tuesday of the month from 4pm.

From October 19 to January 20, Hastings Contemporary will hold the first major UK retrospective of work by British artist Victor Willing since his death, charting each decade of his tumultuous life and career from his time at the Slade, his life in Portugal, and back to London and his death from multiple sclerosis.

The exhibition will feature key loans from Tate, Casa das Histórias Paula Rego, Pallant House Gallery, Arts Council Collection and private collections, bringing the best of Victor Willing’s works to the South Coast. The exhibition will also premiere a new short film of Victor Willing’s life and career by his son and celebrated filmmaker, Nick Willing.

Liz Gilmore added: “This hugely important exhibition, commanding almost the entire gallery space puts Victor Willing back into the public spotlight. Willing is an artist who has and continues to inspire generations of artists. This ground breaking show draws work from collections across Europe and reflects the new ambitious programming of Hastings Contemporary.”