Pictures in the Porch is Chichester artist's ingenious solution

Pictures in the Porch is the socially-distanced solution from Festival of Chichester regular, artist Catherine Barnes.

Catherine Barnes - Unfolded Years
Catherine Barnes - Unfolded Years

She is holding her exhibition in the porch of her home at 107 Cedar Drive, Chichester, PO19 3EL on July 3, 4 and 5 from 10am-6pm.

As Catherine explains: “The idea of Pictures in the Porch is to enable visitors to be in contact with ‘un-virtual’, real paintings: “As it would be unwise in this pandemic to open my studio for the planned Festival exhibition, our modified porch is small but safe for both me and visitors. The exhibition will comprise oil paintings full of texture and expressive brushstrokes. We will hang eight to ten works and show up to 12 originals in the browser – about as much as a small gallery or a stand in an art fair.

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“Virtual galleries have their place, and my website shows over 100 of my works for browsing (www.catherinebarnes.com), but nothing compares with being in front of the real thing.

“I am offering a unique experience, as galleries are closed, to interact privately with art. It’s an individual private view, subject, of course, to the regulations in place at the time, as only two people can view in comfort. We will be behind a glass door and visitors can speak to me through the adjacent window. If anyone wishes to re-home a painting there will be safe payment facilities for that.

“I will hang large and smaller paintings with a loose theme of landscape/seascape and have a dozen original works on paper, mounted ready to frame, to view.

“In addition I am offering the opportunity for visitors to select work from my website to view – provided they let me know the titles the day before coming. We will have them ready and hang those where possible. Email [email protected] or phone/text 07977 516730.”

London born, Catherine grew up in Dover where she attended St Ursula’s Convent until she “escaped” to Folkestone Art School and subsequently Camberwell School of Art studying fine art and textiles. She went on to study history of art at Goldsmiths’ College.

“I started exhibiting in London in 1970, with experience of showing and selling my work in galleries, solo shows, and art fairs in England and Europe, including Europ’Art in Paris and the 2011 Florence Biennale. Moving to Winchester I taught history of art at the University of Southampton and was a visiting artist at Southampton City Art Gallery.

“Since coming to Chichester 15 years ago I have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with Pallant House and the Oxmarket Gallery, where last year I exhibited with Daphne Casdagli, jointly promoting a programme of eight recitals, including Jacquelyn Fugelle, David Owen Norris, Tom Bullard and John Law, as part of the Festival of Chichester.”

Catherine added: “The alternatives (to becoming an artist) were to become a ballet dancer or a nun. Either of these options were preferable for my parents to being an art student. Women were few in early-60s art schools.

Catherine added: “I thought that lockdown would be a marvellous opportunity to merrily skip into my studio and produce mountains of meaningful artwork as lesser mortals carried on worrying about life and a Waitrose slot. But no: the very opposite.

“What I considered to be the norm of artistic life, isolation, is, in fact, a barren wasteland apart from my sketchbooks. It was comforting to find that those artist friends, whom one respected, felt the same way too. As suspected, art feeds on art; visiting exhibitions, and interaction with others. It is important for the creative zap that touches the spring that starts the whole thing. It’s been tough but thankfully music is available and books with reproductions are on our bookshelves, but we all miss new sights, new spaces, new light and yes, new tastes and, especially new people.”

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