Hastings’ Jerwood Gallery to relaunch under new name

Jerwood Gallery
Jerwood Gallery

The Jerwood Gallery will relaunch as a new, independent art venue later this year.

The director and trustees of Jerwood Gallery have today (Tuesday, March 26) announced that the gallery will become Hastings Contemporary, with a public reopening on July 6, 2019.

Since opening in 2012, the gallery has built an acclaimed exhibition programme and has been a cornerstone of the cultural renaissance of Hastings, welcoming more than 300,000 visitors.

However, earlier this year, it was announced that around 300 pieces of the gallery’s prized artwork would be repossessed and its funding would be cut due to a dispute between the gallery’s management and the Jerwood Foundation. The foundation’s chairman, Alan Grieve, said the disagreement stemmed from his suggestion for the gallery to have a business-focused executive director to help raise funds.

The Hastings Contemporary will have a refreshed curatorial direction under Jerwood Gallery’s founding director, Liz Gilmore, and has already received an anonymous donation of £250,000.

Its expanded programme will explore all forms of modern and contemporary art, as well as continuing to champion the medium of painting, for which it has built a strong reputation.

Liz Gilmore said: “Hastings Contemporary will bring dynamic, museum-quality art to Hastings. We want to encourage new ways of looking – contrasting historic works with today’s artists, showing works in a range of media, and celebrating both national and international practitioners. Our programme will take advantage of the entire building, and we are thrilled at the prospect of inviting ever wider audiences to come and experience art by the sea.

“We are delighted to have secured a generous donation in support of the opening of Hastings Contemporary. The support of Jerwood Foundation and Hastings Borough Council and more recently, Arts Council England, has enabled a remarkable institution to come to life over the last seven years, in a beautiful setting, and we’re all excited about its future.”

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Hedley Swain, executive director of Arts Council England East and SE, said: “The opportunity for everyone to access, enjoy and be inspired by great art and culture is hugely important to the Arts Council. We recognise the huge contribution that has been made by the Jerwood Foundation and the ongoing commitment of Hastings Borough Council to develop the town’s cultural offer.

“Hastings Contemporary has a key role to play in continuing to build on this, ensuring that both the local community and visitors to the town can enjoy great art. This is an important moment for the gallery, and I look forward to seeing it going from strength to strength.”

Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney added: “Jerwood Gallery has become a well-established attraction in Hastings. It has been a cornerstone of the borough’s cultural regeneration programme, helping to establish Hastings as one of the key cultural centres of the south coast.

“I welcome its relaunch as the newly-independent Hastings Contemporary gallery and look forward to its future programme of exciting and challenging art, to draw attention to Hastings and the vibrant creative culture that has become the hallmark of our town.”

The opening programme will feature new works by the contemporary international painter, Tal R, alongside the acclaimed British painter Roy Oxlade, and works by Oxlade’s tutor David Bomberg. All these artists are credited with influencing generations of painters.

As part of the relaunch, Artist Patron Sir Quentin Blake, will present a series of new drawings. Later programming will include works by Varda Caivano, Anne Ryan and Victor Willing. A full programme of activity will be announced later in the year.

Hastings Contemporary will reflect the town’s independent spirit, drawing on the rich artistic heritage of Hastings and the South East and engaging with the town’s growing creative community. It will take over the space previously given over to the exhibition of the Jerwood Collection, creating additional space for exhibitions and new opportunities to explore connections between history and the present.

Hastings Contemporary will cultivate greater national and international profile through landmark exhibitions and by commissioning new work. It will also forge new partnerships, building on previous successful collaborations with national museums and collections including Tate, the Royal Academy and the National Gallery and significant private collections.

Sir Quentin Blake, Artist Patron of Hastings Contemporary, said: “I could never have imagined, many years ago when I bought my ancient house in Hastings, that one day there would be an art gallery a few minutes’ walk away at the end of the street; brilliantly contemporary, but at the same time harmonising with its unique site on The Stade. Nor that it would have such a perceptive and skilled director as Liz Gilmore. Her ambitions for the gallery and her enterprising programme of exhibitions has given a new attraction and interest to Hastings and those who live there; and, more personally, she has inspired me to set about a new range of exploratory work that I might otherwise never have embarked on.”