John Hitchens and Anthony Garratt

5th April 2017

Exploring the Land: Two Ways of Seeing

Exhibition dates:                Saturday 13 May — Saturday 17 June 2016

Private View:                          Saturday 13 May, 3 pm—8pm

This joint exhibition explores the way two artists have responded to the landscape of Sussex both of them painting en plein aire in an expressive spontaneous manner. John Hitchen’s work in the exhibition spans a 45 year period from the 1970s to the present day and presents a retrospective of his evolving style. Anthony’s paintings were all completed over the last year.

Although he has painted much further afield, John’s work is deeply influenced by the landscape surrounding his home in West Sussex. He also spent several weeks each summer staying at Pagham harbor and in the 1970s created a series of paintings capturing the atmospheric effects of the beach and salt marshes especially at dawn and dusk. The paintings in the exhibition begin with his early representational works through his increasing experiments in abstraction where sky and horizon are lost in broad gestural brush strokes, at times the flattened picture plane opening into glimpses of distant vistas.

In John’s latest work, gestural evocations of the land are expressed in complex compositions of flat articulate colour. Reuniting these works separated by so many years reveals fascinating connections and relationships. The paintings display recurring themes, the rhythms of the seasons, the structure of the land, vistas glimpsed through deep woodland, lines of strata and sediment, contour lines of hills and fields. The exhibition is an homage to John’s continuing absorption with the organic, changing nature of the landscape whether on a grand sweeping scale or reduced to abstracted patterns of plough lines and hedge rows. The artist’s eye is continually searching and exploring, never content to stand still as John himself says, ‘everything that has gone before is part of what is now’.

Anthony’s work by contrast is concerned primarily with the weather, and the physical experience and impact of a landscape. He researches his paintings by exposing himself to the elements, winter storms, summer heat, racing tides, scudding clouds and eery moonlight. A trip to Sussex last year inspired him to return and create the work for this show.

For Anthony, South Sussex from the downs to the coast offered an abundance of sensory information. Starting at Petworth House, what immediately struck him is that the grassy hills and lines from pathways excavated by Capability Brown are echoed naturally further South as he headed through the Downs. As the light hits and shifts around the lake in front of Petworth House, the eye is naturally led from tree to curve, to water, to sky and in some respects the landscape has already been painted.

‘Painting the coast from Sesley to West Wittering is a fascinating and atmospheric journey which feels far removed from the rolling hills of the Downs’, he explained. Massive vistas and salt marshes enable the experience of raw weather where the continually changing landscape is molded by the tidal state and weather. ‘The paintings are an impulsive reaction to visiting somewhere for the very first time and capturing the most immediate senses; the sound underfoot, the movement of the weather and land, the smell of the marshes and sea’, he continued

Anthony works by splattering and dribbling, paint across canvases, sometimes mixed with earth and sand, and rust. Often working in the open air, brushes, knives, fingers, palette knives, all play their part and from the seeming chaos an image gradually emerges.

 

Notes on the Artists

John Hitchens

John Hitchens grew up in Graffham, West Sussex and studied at Bath Academy of Art, Corsham Court.    Both his father Ivon Hitchens (1893-1979) and his grandfather Alfred Hitchens (1861-1942) were painters and his son Simon Hitchens is a Sculptor. The wooded Sussex landscape nestling below the South Downs has been a major influence on his work but he also spent extended periods painting in Scotland and South Wales. He began his career as a figurative landscape painting but began experimenting with abstraction in the late 1970s.   From 1990 he has painted in a fully abstract style with a restricted palette of earth pigments. John’s work was exhibited throughout the 1960s, 70s and 80s at the Marjorie Parr Gallery and Montpellier Galleries in London and the John Paul Gallery in Chichester. His work is in numerous public collections, including Brighton Art Gallery, Bradford City Art Gallery, Brasenose College Oxford, Chase Manhattan Bank New York, and the Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

Anthony Garratt

Anthony studied at Chelsea College of Art, followed by Falmouth College of Arts for a design degree. Having worked as a designer for a few years he decided to become a fulltime painter. He is a member of the Royal West of England Academy where he has exhibited regularly. He has also shown at the RA Summer Exhibition and the Royal College of Arts Henry Moore Gallery. ‘This is Bristol’ listed Anthony Garratt ‘as the next David Hockney’. Anthony was invited to paint the Diamond Jubilee Pageant from the Millennium Bridge.  He has been involved in three inspirational outdoor projects. In September 2014 – Alfresco on Tresco in which he worked on four massive paintings in the open air, leaving them in situ exposed to the elements for four months. He followed this with a similar project from March – October 2015 FOUR Angelsey in North Wales. In 2016 he completed High Low an installation in the Snowdonia National Park which consisted of one enormous outdoor painting which was left floating on lake Llyn Llydaw.and a second painting suspended in a near by disused coal mine. The installations attracted huge media coverage including BBC & ITV news. Anthony has had numerous highly successful shows throughout the UK.

 

Atlantis Coast-West-Harris.-1220-x-900.jpg

21st October 2016

Edge of The Land

31st March 2016

oil on board, 30 x 30 cm

Feeling All Broken

31st March 2016

oil on board, 18 x 17.5 cm

Joze Art Fair, The Library Space Battersea. March 8th to 12th

10th March 2012

The first Joze Art Fair has been a great success well attended by London collectors and clients up from Sussex. The Fair was curated by Joze Waldie who as well as hanging her own show invited six other galleries to join her. Thanks to the generosity of Anthony Mascolo we were able to take over his Private Georgian Library on Battersea Park Road for the four days.



Christmas and Looking Ahead to the New Year

17th November 2011

We have now rehung the gallery after the Autumn Show closed and hope to see many more visitors before Christmas.  John and Jane Knuckey are joining us for the Christmas opening with some of their beautiful hand-made furniture and their new collection of smaller items such a trays, photograph frames and book ends www.knuckeyfruniture.co.uk . We are also previewing a few of Oona Campbell’s new paintings of West Wittering which will form part of her solo show next May.
Don’t hesitate to call to make an appointment or enquire about any of the images on our web site.  We are always happy to open up specially – or to take the paintings to you either in London or elsewhere if you can’t get down to Sussex.
With David Attenbourgh’s Frozen planet and the wonderful exhibition of Scott’s Antarctic Exhibiton currently showing at Buckingham Palace our first exhibition of 2012 is highly topical. 23 Shades of White chronicles Tuema Pattie’s recent voyages through the Falklands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula.
Painting in these conditions was incredibly tough, everything on deck was blown away and on shore Tuema had to contend with inquisitive penguins and constant sleet which washed away the paint before it could dry. With her indomitable Irish spirit, Tuema actually relished the challenges and produced dazzling sketches – either through her cabin porthole or balanced on an icy rock – from which to work up the finished paintings for the March show.
Another excitement next year is the long awaited return of Oona Campbell following her 2007 exhibition.  Oona has now moved to Dorset and her solo show scheduled for May 2012 is of Sussex and Dorset paintings . Oona has been racing over to Sussex most weekends this month to catch the Autumn Colours and hopefully a winter sun set, such as the one we had last week end – which luckily found her sketching on West Wittering Beach.  Her new work will include views of Goodwood and the Trundle and Petworth Park.

We are also doing two art fairs in the early part of next year, returning to the 20/21st International Art Fair at the Royal College in February and taking part in a new curated fair opening for the first time at the Old Library in Battersea. The fair is the idea of our Sussex neighbour Jose Waldie who has invited six dealers to join her in this fabulous Georgian Library just of Prince of Wales Drive. Perhaps this will be the way forward for the art market, smaller more intimate art fairs where one is not left lost, confused and exhausted before one is even half-way round the stands!

Up and Running at Last

20th September 2011

The Gods were kind to us and we had a wonderful afternoon for the Private View.  The first punters arrived on the dot of three and we finally started to turn out the lights at nine pm as I thought my feet were going to give way.  The day whizzed by as we had so many people through the door  (over 400) who were genuinely interested in what we were doing and the work on show, I know I am the proprietor but our visitors were so complimentary about the work and the setting that all the hard work was worth it.

I think Woodruffs is at its best in the early autumn, the borders are still just in flower but the berries and seed heads are also appearing, the low autumn light seems to bounce of the fields and hit the sculpture at exactly the right angle and the pieces look wonderful against the different colours and textures of the fields at this time of year.  Sculptor Richard Bray did comment that he had installed his Utile Upright pieces against a golden field of stubble and we had ‘repainted’ the back drop as the field had been ploughed in the interim- but that is the hazard of a gallery like ours.

Lots of the artists and sculptors were able to come for the opening. Dominic Welch driving  all the way up from his remote Exmore studio,  Richard Bray  from Cambridge and Nicolas Moreton from Northamptonshire.  Lucy Unwin made quite a stir by arriving by helicopter.  A helicopter in the paddock was a real bonus for our cred ratings.

Considering the economic climate, sales have been fantastic we have sold over 30 works of art spread over many different artists, with prices ranging from £40 to £8,000.  I think any London gallery would have been over joyed to have had the sort of response we have had and I am so encouraged that my daft idea of opening a gallery in the middle of a farm miles from anywhere seems to be working.  I think people love the whole experience of coming here, the garden, the quality of the sculpture and the thought that has gone into siting it.  The barn with it’s 30 foot ceilings and floor to ceiling windows onto the landscape is a remarkable venue for the paintings and a superb way to show them at their best.

A big thank you to all the artists and sculptors for showing with us and for everyone who came and made is such a wonderful day.  If you haven’t yet made it to the show  – waste no time in getting here and if the opening hours don’t suit you please ring to make an appointment.  And by the way the swallows left three days before we opened.  I do miss them soaring round the garden but not the mess they made.   However, we now have a squirrel nesting in the roof of the gallery making a dreadful racket and doing untold damage.  We have set a trap bated with peanuts, the peanuts are gone every morning but  no  sign of the squirrel – I will keep you posted.

Up goes the Green Dancing Torso

8th September 2011

Just over a week to go every one working flat out!

With just over a week to go to the opening, the last ten days have been frantically busy. We now have nearly all the sculpture installed and were lucky to have most of it in before the gale of last Monday night made conditions very difficult. Handling tons of slippery stone and marble in a torrential down pour with mud under foot is no joke. Dick Budden’s giant bronze  fruit is now lying in the orchard among the windfalls looking as autumnal as the weather, Paul Vanstone’s marble torso’s look stunning against the sky line. I think our farmer Brian Dallyn must have been very surprised to be greeted by an eight foot female marble figure on the edge of his field as he did his rounds on Monday morning.

Paintings have been arriving from Scotland, France, Berlin and  Devon  as well as our local artists Lucy Powell and John Hitchens. We are really lucky that John has given us some more landscapes and flower paintings carefully stored since the 80s all are based on the landscape around here the South Downs and Grafham woodland. Tim Kent’s  figure studies painted in his Brooklyn Studio, are finally on their way but not yet arrived. They can now be seen on the web site they are richly painted,  playful works juxtaposing the models against the large portrait commissions he is currently working on in the studio. Fingers crossed there are no more  hurricanes in New York  and they make it in time for the opening,

The swallows which have been nesting in the  open barn since the spring are now having flying lessons and getting very good at it. I am tender hooks as to whether they will have left in time for the opening as there are obvious complications to placing sculpture and painting out there at present!

Welcome

23rd August 2011

Welcome to the new website and our state of the art electronic catalogue which has been designed by my nephew Alexander Payne of Key Player Publishing.  The catalogue is a real first for an art gallery, do click on the link and forward it onto your friends.  The website presents a whole range of work new to the gallery and we are looking forward to getting you all here for the September exhibition.

While the gallery has been closed there have been major changes to the garden and we have turned a weedy swap into a stunning ‘pocket park’ designed by Judith Wise with much enthusiastic help and support from Charlie.   We can now display double the amount of sculpture, which looks stunning in the new setting.   The whole family have helped with clearing and burning and driving diggers and dumpers, the new trees have survived the dry months and all is now looking green and verdant as autumn edges towards us.

The first pieces of sculpture are already here; Dominic Welch spent two days installing his large scale Rising Form II and Dorsalis XII. It is real coup to have these works here and we are all enjoying them enormously as well as Ben Barrell’s stunning benches, which are perfect for admiring the sun set over the Rother Valley.

Preparations are now well under way for the show, the invitations are being sent out, more work is arriving daily and we shall soon be besieged by sculptors and heavy lifting gear.   We start hanging the paintings in early September.   If you can’t make the Private View  but are interested in viewing a work of art then come and see us before the opening.   We shall be updating the blog weekly as events develop.