Dada plus eight

'Terrarium II' by Chris Kettle

It’s been a decade since Toovey’s held the first ever auction of Contemporary Art consigned by Self-representing Artists. Due to other commitments the sales have been postponed until further notice, but those looking to get their Contemporary Art ‘fix’ have the perfect opportunity in Hove during the next fortnight.

Nick Toovey with artist Sarah Shaw

I was fortunate enough to be invited to a preview of the exhibition at the Naked Eye Gallery curated by Stefanra Dal Ferro that runs between the 11th and 24th December. The exhibition showcases eight different artists all of whom have the same 1.5m x 2m area to display their art. Curator Stefania states ‘Rather than the lines in the gallery separating the pieces, I wanted to create a sense of them melting together; simultaneously fighting differences and celebrating individuality.’ All the artists have responded by filling their space with one or two showstoppers.

In the show, five of the eight artists had been included in at least one of Toovey’s Contemporary Art Auctions. It was nice to see a familiar eclectic mixture of styles, palettes and media all in a single venue and equally good to see the artists themselves.

'Wires' by Sarah Shaw

The exhibition walls were full of contrasts. Leaping into focus as you walk through the doors is an amazing Simon Dixon of Bo Diddley, popping with colour this acrylic on canvas sings against the unobtrusive grey background. Beside this is ‘Wires’ by Sarah Shaw, a work that she describes as a cathartic experience to produce. I had a good catch up with Sarah, and was pleased to hear the positivity around her recent competition entries, solo shows and other exhibitions. Sarah’s art features on the soon to be released cover of Daughter’s album ‘Not to Disappear’ released by 4AD and a new print will be launched soon to coincide. As an artist she has always been one to watch and I am delighted people are sharing my enthusiasm for her work.

'Otherwise the stone would carve the tool' by Jim Sanders

The inimitable Jim Sanders was offering two works, both breaking away from his usual palette of black, grey, white and red with bold splashes of colour. Jim was as upbeat as ever and I was reminded of the time I visited his house to write a Sussex Life article and being blown away by what I saw. Discussing this with another artist we both agreed that his home is akin to a ready made museum of his own work, quite an immersive and incredible experience for anyone lucky enough to visit.

Chris Kettle chatting about his impressive oil on canvas 'Terrarium II'

The work of David Levine, Joseph Rossi and Alex Binnie were no less impressive as I moved around to ‘Terranium II’ by Chris Kettle. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, there is no contemporary artist offering such an interesting twist on the Still Life genre like Chris. His attention to detail combined with his unique vision delivers works that are simply breathtaking. I was buoyed to hear that his work was gaining a strong reputation and prints of his work were selling out fast. As a result a new series of prints are just about to be launched.

Then my circuit of the room was completed with the ultimate quirkiness of Paul Ostrer. As always, his work was beautifully executed and indulgently brilliant. The collective group of the plus eight emphasizes how much talent there is on our doorstep, and that Sussex could truly become a center for the arts. The quote of Mattie Stepanek in the exhibition brochure was perfectly apt: ‘Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration wonderful things can be achieved.’

The exhibition also provided me with the opportunity to meet some fascinating new people – not least the amazing framer Tim Harbridge, based in Montague Place, Brighton, and the equally brilliant Vaughan from Tin Dogs, who looks after a number of artists by reproducing their works as sumptuous screen prints.

So if you are in Hove in the next two weeks be sure to pop into the Naked Eye Gallery in Farm Mews, BN3 1GH, to see the Dada+8 show!

Barbara Rae and the R.A. Printmakers at Pallant House Gallery

Barbara Rae, Harbour Night, 2005, etching and collagraph, © The Artist

I have a particular passion for prints. The diversity of techniques available to the contemporary printmaker makes this a particularly creative area for artists. Scottish artist and Royal Academician Barbara Rae accurately describes herself as both a printmaker and a painter. The use of collage and layering entwines both strands of her work. She offers the viewer what some have described as an abstracted interpretation of the world.

Barbara Rae, Hacienda, 2003, screen print, © The Artist

Barbara Rae voices real concern about how we locate ourselves in relation to the world around us. This concern is important and countercultural to the way in which technology, like satellite navigation, can disconnect us from our landscape and sense of place in the world. Her work holds in tension what we perceive and what is beyond, the colours creating a spatial ambiguity. Rae remains an experimental painter and printmaker, seeking new ways to communicate her vision of the world. Patterns in the landscape are revealed in the patterns in her prints. Take, for example, the lines drawing together the composition in ‘Harbour Night’, as though woven in the scenery. Together with the rich, layered colours they create rhythm and life in the image. ‘Barbara Rae: Prints’ is a jewel-like exhibition, which allows us to understand the artist’s mastery of printing techniques as diverse as etching, collotype and screen printing. It runs at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, until 26th October 2014.

Eileen Cooper, Skipper, 2009, woodcut, © The Artist

Also on show at Pallant House, until 19th October, is a selection of twelve newly acquired prints, which feature in another exhibition, titled ‘Royal Academician Printmakers: New acquisitions through the Golder-Thompson Gift’. It spotlights the generosity and vision of Mark Golder and Brian Thompson, who have given some one hundred and sixty works by contemporary R.A. printmakers to the Pallant House Gallery Collection. The works in this exhibition encompass a variety of different printmaking techniques, including wood engraving, aquatint, silkscreen and several types of intaglio printing, which include etching, engraving, polymer and gravure. Among my favourites is Eileen Cooper’s ‘Skipper’. This woodcut print has a compelling folk narrative, told through her lovely use of line. It is at once playful and contemporary.

These two exhibitions beautifully explore and demonstrate printmaking as an art form in its own right. But these two shows, like printmaking itself, are also highly democratic, as these images are to be shared and celebrated by many.

For more information on these exhibitions go to or telephone 01243 774557.

By Revd. Rupert Toovey. Originally published on 3rd September 2014 in the West Sussex Gazette.