Lewes gallery marks first anniversary after tough first year

On February 1 it will be exactly a year since Neeta Pedersen took over the premises to launch her Star Brewery Gallery in Lewes.
Neeta PedersenNeeta Pedersen
Neeta Pedersen

And what a year it has been.

But at least she knows that if she can survive a year like that, she can probably survive anything.

Neeta is marking the anniversary with the launch of an online exhibition – while also hoping that she can get back to in-person exhibitions as soon as possible.

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“I took over the place on February 1 last year and I had to redecorate it.”

The aim was to open mid-March, but on the Monday before the opening Friday, the country was plunged into lockdown.

Neeta switched activities online – and it wasn’t until July 17 that that the gallery finally got to open for real, opening its doors with the exhibition which had originally been scheduled as the curtain-raiser four months earlier.

“I then had four shows from that date in July until I closed down again for the lockdown in December.

“I then opened in December with a Peter Messer solo show.”

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The response was great, confirmation again that the gallery was very much wanted.

“I did the online shows and the online shows were a huge success. Most of them had good sales.

“I used to work in the gallery when it was The Hop Gallery and I would say that the visitor numbers were the same.

“ It was a good amount of people that we had coming in when we could open… though obviously all properly socially distanced.

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“It was really encouraging. The Peter Messer solo show nearly sold out.

“I am still glad that I took the gallery over. It has been closed down so many times, but it has still been a great success.

“It has become a very popular online gallery and a lot of people really do value it. Lewes was missing that kind of gallery space, and lots of people really do appreciate having it here.

“A lot of the visitors are thanking me for bringing the gallery back.

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“I certainly don’t regret it. It has been very much worth it, and it has given hope for the future of the arts, the fact that people do really enjoy the gallery.

“I am hoping that we will soon get some sort of news so that we can reopen again.

“I am just waiting so that I can start booking in again. Some artists are flexible; some artists are not quite so flexible.

“But a lot of artists have got their slots already. A lot of artists have got their exhibition dates.

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“It is just that I might have to move some around depending when I can open again. I think I will need about a month to plan, but I know that I can open quite quickly.

“I am fine. I am happy. It was good to have this gallery to focus on during this pandemic because it has kept me busy.”

It all adds up to plenty of encouragement.

“It has given me hope for the future that we will overcome this virus one day at some point and that we can get back to a world that obviously won’t be quite the same but is just a little bit like the world that we were used to.”