New format for Arundel Gallery Trail

Arundel Gallery Trail 2021 comes with an exciting sense of reinvention.

Marty Lowell
Marty Lowell

Rather than the usual ten-day daily trail coinciding with the Arundel Festival, this year’s Arundel Gallery Trail opts for a new format instead, spreading out over four long weekends.

It will run from Thursday, August 5-Sunday, August 8; Thursday, August 12-Sunday, August 15; Thursday, August 19-Sunday, August 22; and Thursday, August 26-Monday, August 30. The times will be 12-5pm.

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It’s a way of making the trail more appealing and also more practical for artists and visitors alike in times which remain uncertain, explains Marty Lowell, one of the trail organisers.

“We just feel that it gives the artists more possibilities for being open. We have gone through a period of great uncertainty wondering whether it was possible to have the trail. Usually we start organising it in January, and at that point it was unclear. And then late March, maybe even early April, we thought we could do it but that we should make it more flexible, that we should give people more opening possibilities.

“We are finding it is much more in public places this year rather than in private homes. We have got the Victoria Institute and the Cathedral and the Cathedral Centre and right down the line and also some private homes.

“But also we wanted to extend the gallery trail beyond simply the Arundel Festival.

“It was unclear whether the Arundel Festival was going to happen so we felt we needed to do more of an uncoupling of the two events. And so we are starting earlier, the first weekend in August.

“We have got 23 venues and 51 artists, though some of those artists are organisations and within those organisations there are lots of artists. But in 2019 we had 63 venues so it is about half the size. A lot of people found the old trail too much, and with this there will still be a lot of artists but it will be more manageable. Most people could never have hoped to get around all the venues, but with this there is still a lot to see.”

The flexibility for the artists is that some might be doing all four weekends; some might be doing two; some might be doing just the one.

Marty suspects that this might well be the format for the future: “This might be the way forward, but we will decide.

“We will have to see how it goes and make a decision. These are still crazy times and there is still so much uncertainty. There is just no way of knowing what might yet happen, but for the moment we just felt that spreading it out made sense to us.

“And the idea of spreading the trail is something that was interesting to a lot of people.

“Running continuously with the Arundel Festival is something that attracts some people but also something that puts some people off. Some people like the town when it is more crowded; some people like the town more when it is less crowded, and this certainly gives more viewing opportunities as well.”

Returning this year, throughout the trail and based at the Victoria Institute, is the secret artists auction – a chance to bid on an artwork without knowing who created it. The artworks on foot-square wooden boards (which were sent out to the participating artists to create on) will be on display. You make your bid in secret. You will be told if your bid is not the highest to date; equally you will be told whether your bid has been outbid by someone subsequently. At the end, the proceeds will be divided half and half between the artists and the gallery trail.

“We don’t reveal anything. We decided at the beginning that we would not publish a list of the bids because it makes it crazy for everyone and artists are crazy enough people anyway!”