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IMAGE CREDIT: Corina Stupa Thomas

Congratulations to the organisers of the Arts, Crafts and Photographs exhibition promoted at St. Wilfrid’s Hall, Pevensey Bay yesterday (Saturday 26 August)—Bay Life, 27 August 2017

Without question, the exhibition, has set the standard for the emerging arts movement here in the locality, the exhibition was a big success.

Opened by James Braxton, star of the BBC2 series Antiques Road Trip, the event kicked off at 10:30am.

Christine Racher, one of the two key organisers, told Bay Life ‘people were queuing up to get in from 10:00am.”

The quality of artwork on show was exemplary, raising the bar with demonstrations by a range of artists working in a variety of mediums.

The decision to lay out the exhibition as a set of two circles with the artwork ,was critical to the success. In the outside circle we saw a wide range of artworks. In the inside circle a number of artists worked all day giving demonstrations of their work from lino cuts to sketches.

The decision to lay out and promote the exhibition ni this way was a simple, effective idea.

The space of St. Wilfrid’s Hall, has something of a dead space feel when empty, it could be argued. It is not the most attractive space in which to promote art. communication, discussion or the values of the creative and cultural world of local people. Having said that, this particular way of displaying artwork and active art people working. was a brilliant stroke of organisation, and no doubt will be repeated.

The choice of people working in the inner circle, with their bright welcoming faces, gave both residents and visitors an immediate talking point. The inner circle of artists became ambassadors for the day, pointed towards the audience, meeters and greeters, with their artwork on show as well.

How simple was the idea as a stroke of inspiration? Made to work, it has to be said, by the quality of people and their communication skills and artwork that was on show, set out as a circle of tables.

Art teacher, Dinah Jones, was one of the ambassadors for the day, working, as she spoke to people, on her latest lino cut.

How did we not know that we had someone of this talent living and working in Pevensey Bay?

As a trained art teacher and accomplished artist, her work betrayed a knowledge of art movements and the locality in a way that was simple and engaging.

On show was a single colour linocut of Bexhill Bandstand, not just accomplished, but interpreted with skill and beauty. A selection of her collages also showed originality.

One in particular of two pop up figures, echoed the work of Richard Hamilton, the father of pop art in this country, whose work is now in pride of place in Tate Modern and his groundbreaking piece, “What Is It That Makes Today’s Homes So Different, So Appealing? (1956).

Her work was original, with an interesting retro sixties feel to the structure, colour and figure work. As an art teacher, the reference to Richard Hamilton nodded her work will no doubt be one she will recognise.

How can it be the case that we have someone of the talent of Dinah Jones living and working in Pevensey Bay when no-one has seen her work or heard about her talent?

Why is her work not on show in the locality? The call for an art gallery here in Pevensey Bay might reach a crescendo at some point soon.

Without questing, the work of Dinah Jones should be on show in a new front window of the Pevensey Bay Art Gallery.

Dinah Jones told Bay Life that she was ‘working on a collage that included ‘the Sandcastle in the distance’. The prospect of the piece that references the iconic early modernist, now faithfully restored, masterpiece property in Pevensey Bay is intriguing, aand may well have saleable value.

Her mix of pop art collages and single colour linocuts of scenes were exemplary.

The local portraits of the work of Oscar nominated Michael Stringer (1924—2014) were well profiled.

Some of this work has never featured in an exhibition here before. Many of the artworks on show as prints, featured scenes from Pevenesey Bay, where he lived and worked in the last years of his life.

He was very much part of the local arts scene, playing a full role in the life of Pevensey Bay Arts Club.

The decision to profile his work in this fashion as part of the exhibition, again, was something of an inspired choice.

Likely in our view, that some of the many visitors to the show, came specifically to see examples of his work.

As the set designer for the classic 152 film ‘Geneieve’ and with so many other famous films to his credit, inevitably we see in his work a ‘theatre and filmic set’ to his work, often seen from above, with busy characteristics, particularly the sense of local people in the sets.

The fact that the artwork we saw displayed yesterday at the second Annual Arts, Crafts and Photographs exhibition by the famous Michael Stringer were of local scenes, make them of potential inestimable value to the local community.

The artworks were donated to the Pevensey Tourism and Information Centre by the estate of Michael Stringer.

The donations has significant potential value in relation to Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination.

Whilst a number of the works are known, many, as became clear from the exhibition, are not. We see the artwork sold on a few cards produced by the Pevensey Bay Information Centre, but that would appear to be the sum total of work done so far to promote these precious and unique scenes of Pevensey Bay.

The Pevensey Bay Information Centre is under threat of closure because of circumstances with regard toWealden Council,.

They are the owners of the upturned boat style information home and site. Inevitably, given the economic circumstances of the times in which we live, Wealden Council have to take a commercial view of the value of the site.

What we must avoid is some opportunistic group in the village trying to take control of the site.

It is vital that the wok of the volunteers at the Tourist Information Centre is supported. The group also promotes the hospital transfer scheme, a wonderful example of self-help of the kind that has become so popular as an ambition since the implementation of the Localism Act of 2011.

Here we have a unique challenge.

Anyone who have visited the centre knows that the site is one of the jewels in our crown. The volunteers are knowledgeable about the history and attractions of the locality, the display of visitor attraction leaflets is superb and the time and contextual energy put into the work of welcoming both residents and visitors to be site is marked.

So how to we save the centre? The answer remarkably in the circumstances seems to be simple.

Sell the work of Michael Stringer, commercialise the enterprise and stop some opportunistic outfit lurking locally, from trying to seize the valuable assets that the centre represents.

Like a plot out of one the films Michael Stringer dressed so well, the end reel might be one that would have met his approval.

Given his love for Pevensey Bay and the loving way in which he portrayed the locality, there may be a meeting of minds here.

For example the fabulous seaside scene in his work, “Pevensey Bay and District Information and Caring Centre, East Sussex”, has significant untapped value to Pevensey Bay as a visitor destination

These works were donated by the estate of Michael Stringer donated to the Information Centre in Pevensey Bay.

His work is collectible and seen in art galleries across the world.

Impossible to know of course, but in the selling of his work to a wide visitor audience to Pevensey Bay by the Information Centre, we may have an idea that would have met his wholehearted approval.

The Information Centre, it would seem, is siting on a goldmine of some description, brought into public view by the ACAP Exhibition 2017.

It will be for the committee behind the centre to decide if they wish to mine this collection of unique prints.

Art critic, Michael Brompton, who attended the event said “the Michael Stringer prints that I saw were extraordinary, a number I have never seen before, and of course there may be many of local scenes in private hands within Pevensey Bay that are yet to see the light of day again.

“Given their size and skill and the fact that Michael Stringer is a name known worldwide to a certain extent, and his undeniable love of Pevensey Bay as resident here, we have something of a unique opportunity for whoever owns the rights to sell prints of these works. is manifest.

“My view is that large prints, well done by a specialist company, of which there a number, particularly in Brighton, could sell for between £50:00—£80:00.

Gven that they are of local scenes, the commercial challenge would appear to be something of a gift to the owners of the copyright. Ww have the combination of niche audience for what is a unique niuche product.

Where are the tea towels towels, tote bags and collectible postcards?

“If we just look at the artwork, in my view we could be looking at a potential income in the region of £20,000—£30,000 for the Michael Stringer prints per annum, if promoted properly.

If, as appears, the copyright is owned by the Information Centre, I simply have no idea why this commercial challenge is not being met” .

“Twenty large prints, for example of the Sea Road Car Park scene in Pevensey Bay sold in a year at £80:00 would accrue £1,600 on its own. The production of the prints would cost in the region of £25:00 per print, that is a net profit of £1,100 for one print for the year.

“That possibility, it has to be said, is without any promotion online, simply from visitors to the site, which is portrayed in the print.

“So in my view, we really are looking at some kind of goldmine here commercially, and in this case a commercial goldmine that has value to the whole community in Pevensey Bay.

“Not a unique circumstance, but nonetheless an interesting commercial circumstance”.

The Information Centre currently prints out and sells a number of small cards by Michael Stringer, but that would appear to be the summation of their commercial activity with regard to his work.

Jill Bennett, treasurer of the information centre, lit up a little on hearing part pf the conversation about Michael Stringer.

She is a talented artist herself, and therefore in a unique position to consider both the value and worth to the centre of the gift from the Michael Stringer estate.

Grinning, with a brightness that betrayed the fact that she had been thinking along the same lines for some time, on behalf of the centre, she commented to Bay Life, “I am thinking about making prints of the work of Michael Stringer’

Perhaps the star of the show was Corina Stupa Thomas with her story of how she “grew up under the communist regime of her beautiful Romania”, as portrayed in the broadsheet style newspaper insert that had been created specifically for the exhibition by the new communications agency working in Pevensey Bay.

Put simply, her work was stunning and to a national standard.

Her work featured in the broadsheet style newspaper entitled ‘Be Curious”. The work was a powerful motif style piece of work that captured something of her 30 year struggle into the light and liberation offered by art, following her upbringing in communist Romania.

A spokesman for the new communications agency that has been launched in Pevensey Bay, that now represents the promotional interests of a number of key businesses in Pevensey Bay said, “we immediately saw in the work of Corina Stupa Thomas, work that we believe will find a national, perhaps international space in the crowded world of agencies representing artists in this country”.

“There is abstract and figurative expression that has a hint of Picasso, an element of the rage of Paula Rego and even a hint of the graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

“This is a heady mix, there is something spectacular but also fully formed in the way that Corina creates her art, with what we understand, is spontaneous action, and with quick expression, as if she is trying to communicate with her owns feelings even before the paint is dry.

“In the brush strokes, texture, colour and light, and in the agony of her complex journey from Romania, we can see the the breakdown of Communism and her discovery, not just of the neo-liberal West in the nineteen eighties, but also of herself.

“We have made an offer to represent Corina Stupa Thomas with our communications on the national stage and the offer has been accepted and we are delighted to be forming a partnership with her and her artwork.

“Our aim is to see her work exhibited in London with her own show, as soon as is practicable.

“In the telling of her story in that show, we believe in her artwork that there is an expression of something about the story of the journey in the breakdown of Communism and the relationship with a notion of self and art that says something about the importance of art and freedom, and we most certainly want to help her to tell her story.

“As an agency, to have discovered art of the calibre of Corina Stupa Thomas at a little art exhibition in a small place like Pevensey Bay, in our view is something remarkable.”

ACAP 2017 was a stunning show, put on in little Pevensey Bay.

With local artists pf the quality of Jan Barron and Christine Racher and their artwork represented as well, there was something for everyone.

The dimension added by the Michael Stringer prints and the work of Corina Stupa Thomas made for a memorable exhibition.

Without question ACAP 2017 has put Pevensey Bay on the art map visitor trail of Sussex.

What the organisers will do next is yet to be seen.

With this quality of work, will we now see an art gallery in Pevensey Bay? Such a move looks likely.

Perhaps we might see the show repeated more often, as a Spring, Summer and Autumn show perhaps.

The interest in the exhibition and the notion of ‘Arts, Crafts and Photographs’ and the art associated with Pevensey Bay, is clearly growing.

Perhaps we might see an open house movement emerging in Pevensey Bay in the way that such movements, begun in Brighton in 1982, and now seen across the South East in various locations, have begun and grown to be well received local annual events.

Whatever the next stage with ACAP, we witnessed a very well organised show in Pevensey Bay.

Credit to the organisers for their sterling work, Arts, Crafts and Photographs 2017 was a memorable exhibition.

Credit most of all to Val Racher, the key organiser of the event, who because of poor health on the day was unable to attend,

We hope she recovers and returns to full health in the next few ways and begins to see that she has delivered to Pevensey Bay a significant art event.

A show of this calibre could have taken place somewhere like Lewes, even Brighton. We should feel proud as a community to have in our midst a woman whose organisational skills have enabled the birth of an arts movement here.