Chichester, City of Art

PUBLISHED: 00:16 04 February 2011 | UPDATED: 20:36 20 February 2013

Chichester, City of Art

Chichester, City of Art

Chichester's thriving arts community has big plans for 2011, says Jenny Mark-Bell

For a small cathedral city, Chichester packs a hefty punch in the arts world. This is not only due to its Festival Theatre one of the most acclaimed theatrical venues outside of the capital but thanks also to the many galleries and arts initiatives that have their home in the town.
Andrew Dascalopoulos of local gallery Art for All thinks that geography is important: Sussex is a very attractive county, and both the coast and the Downs make excellent subjects for artists. Chichester is a cathedral city which encourages a thriving community. We also, of course, have a University with a very good art department.
Later this year, locals and visitors will have the opportunity to see the towns artists at work when Chichester Open Studios Arts Trail takes place from 7-8 and 14-15 May, with a preview exhibition at the Oxmarket Gallery from 18-30 April. Entry is free and further details can be obtained from the website Until then, however, there are rich pickings to be found in the city and surrounding areas.
The Oxmarket Centre of Arts, a registered charity located in a Grade II listed deconsecrated church, provides exhibition space for hire by local artists and arts organisations. After suffering bomb damage during World War II, the building was restored by Chichester Centre of Arts and opened in 1976.
Based at a 26-acre Sculpture Estate at Goodwood, The Cass Sculpture Foundation was founded to commission contemporary British sculpture and to create a legacy for the future of the medium. The Foundation is currently working on a big project for the 2012 London Olympics, and 20 new pieces have been commissioned for the Estate, including new works by Jon Isherwood, Victor Timoseev and Tony Cragg. In an innovative new project, all of the works on display at the Foundation are part of a lending scheme. The Estate re-opens on 29 March but visits are available by appointment until then.
The Otter Gallery, a public gallery within the University of Chichester, will mark the centenary of the birth of Mervyn Peake, an artist with strong Sussex connections and best known for his illustrations of fairytale and fantasy works, with an exhibition of Peake's nonsense and poetry works. Mervyn Peake: A Centenary Celebration, will run from 26 May to 17 July. Sussex ceramicist and one of the county's foremost potters Eric James Mellon will be displaying his sketches in Pages From My Sketchbook from 10 March 17 April. Entrance is free.
Formerly known as Chichester Open Art, The National Open Art Competition is chaired by Gavin Turk, who founded the Young British Artists with Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin. Its vision for 2011 is to expand within target regions across the UK, focusing on schools, colleges, galleries and businesses, and creating a platform for visual artists to showcase their work both locally and nationally.
More retail environment than traditional gallery, Art for All stocks art from across the board, says Managing Partner Andrew Dascalopoulos, We may have a lot of stock from popular artists, but we also like to support a variety of local, non-published artists there is always a fairly wide spread. If we know that a new release is due from an artist like Doug Hyde, for example, we will make a point of stocking the new work, and if a customer is seeking a particular piece we will be pleased to source it for them. Art for All offers an interest-free scheme called Artplan, allowing the client to pay a 10 per cent deposit and repay the balance over six months.
Edward James, who inherited his fathers estate at the age of five, had a life-long interest in the arts. He established his eponymous foundation in 1964 to support and teach artists and craftspeople. In 1971 the family seat, West Dean House, was converted and opened as West Dean College and is now a renowned centre for arts, crafts and conservation late last year, metalwork students from the College restored artefacts from local churches ahead of their Christmas celebrations as part of their Graduate and Postgraduate Diplomas in Conservation and Metalwork.
The College offers creative weekend breaks over the summer with an eclectic spectrum of subjects (fancy carving animal heads or making stained glass panels? Check out their website!) The gardens re-open this month with a lecture on Rain Gardens (managing water in the landscape) on 5 February, 10am-3pm.
Founded in 1982, Pallant House Gallery won the 100,000 Gulbenkian Prize in 2007, partly for the sensitivity of the buildings modern extension. The Gallery,described as a collection of collections, focuses mainly on Modern British art and just one of the current exhibitions, Contemporary Eye: Crossovers, includes pieces by Grayson Perry, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Polly Morgan. Highlights for 2011 include Robin and Lucienne Day: Design and the Modern Interior, Mervyn Peake: A Centenary Celebration and Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. For full details of all current exhibitions visit the Gallerys website.

Find them
The Oxmarket Centre of Arts
St Andrews Court (off East Street)
Chichester, PO19 1YH
Tel: 01243 779103

The Otter Gallery
Otter Gallery, College Lane, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 6PE
01243 816098

The Cass Sculpture Foundation
Goodwood, Near Chichester
West Sussex, PO18 0QP
01243 538449

Art for All
25 North St, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1LB
Tel: 01243 781532

West Dean College
Near Chichester, West Sussex
PO18 0QZ
Tel: 01243 811301

Pallant House Gallery
9 North Pallant, Chichester
West Sussex, PO19 1TJ
Tel: 01243 770841

The National Open Art Competition

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