Ongoing celebration of the Sussex landscape in major art exhibition
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Sussex Landscape: Chalk, Wood and Water runs until April 23, and Simon Martin, director of Pallant House Gallery, is delighted at the way the exhibition has come together and at the Sussex that it shows.
“We had an exhibition that was very much about portraiture in the early 20th century in the summer and it's good now to really bring the focus to the landscape and in particular to the landscape where we are situated in Chichester and in wider Sussex. With it being our 40th anniversary we wanted to do something that was very much a way to mark our place within Chichester and within Sussex and also to recognise the rather longer anniversary of the canal. The starting point for this was being able to secure the Turner (JMW Turner’s painting of Chichester Cathedral from Chichester Canal) from the Tate. We made the case but there was a touring Turner exhibition in America and Australia so we thought it wouldn't be possible but we made the case and we were very lucky and I don't think it has ever been to Chichester before. Certainly our records don’t show that it has so it's very special to be able to open the exhibition with this piece. And we've also got works by John Constable and also William Blake who spent three years in Felpham. And in fact his patron William Haley was born on the site of our new wing! We've also got the Smith Brothers of Chichester. We've got a very strong collection of their works.
“What is extraordinary is the number of artists over such a long period from the start of landscape painting in Britain right up to contemporary. Particularly early 20th century you have so many great British painters either visiting or working in Sussex. You've got the Bloomsbury group. We've got three window views from the house at Charleston all from the gallery and we've also got William Nicholson. We've got a group of four William Nicholsons. And you have also got an Ivon Hitchens. And then we've got a room with some much-loved images from Eric Ravilious. What is interesting as you move through this exhibition is the sheer variety of the work. There are quite a number of images of the Seven Sisters but there is such a variety of response from the historic to the more contemporary and there's also the theme of chalk running through the exhibition and also the woodlands of the Weald and also the waterways.. themes which ebb and flow through the exhibition. We haven't done anything like this before. We have done a lot of exhibitions, monograph series on certain artists and you have certain artists that have connections to Sussex and some of these works have featured in the shows but we have never done this kind of transhistorical show before. We have 69 artists and if we had space we would have had more. People will ask ‘Why didn't you have this artist or that artist?’ but it shows the relations between them.”