People and places
Caroline Bugler takes a trip to the seaside to enjoy a panorama of modern British art
HE Jerwood Gallery in Hastings sits in the middle of a south-eastern coastal trail that enables you to trace the story of modern British art all the way from Turner Contemporary in Margate, Kent, to Pallant House in Chichester, West Sussex. It overlooks a working fishing beach filled with boats and maritime paraphernalia and, as you gaze out of the windows at the view, you become conscious of a peculiarly silver light that bounces off the sea and filters into the gallery’s spaces.
These were specially created to house the art collection gathered by the chairman of the Jerwood Foundation, Alan Grieve. The current exhibition of works by 100 British artists, spanning 100 years, which occupies more or less the entire building, displays Jerwood pieces
Talongside those from a sister collection of 20th-century and contemporary British art amassed by the media entrepreneur and philanthropist Chris Ingram.
Both collections—which contain paintings, watercolours, drawings and sculpture—were formed in a relatively short space of time and shaped by the taste of the two men who made them, which lends coherence. They cover similar ground and are both especially strong in figurative works.
If there’s a distinction to be made, it’s that the Jerwood works are domestic in scale and fairly quiet in mood, whereas some in the Ingram collection are larger and more assertive. However, the overall mood is gentle and playful: the clamorous voices of Vorticism and the dissonance of Conceptualism find little place here. There is more to delight than disturb.
The exhibition wisely concentrates on some prevailing themes in 20th-century British art rather than attempting a historical survey. Among the household names—sickert, Hockney, Moore
Above: Dora Carrington’s Iris Tree on a Horse, painted on glass. Below: Small Torso by Eric Gill, both from the Ingram collection