Unknown Countries

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I’d not been to Hastings before. Strange to admit, especially since I lived in Maidstone for three years just 30 miles away, though that was over 40 years ago. Hastings was where John Martyn lived but, as much as I loved his music, we always by-passed the town on our way home from Brighton.

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Now it’s home to the Jerwood Gallery (it opened in 2012) and it’s time we caught up with Hastings.

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The Jerwood Gallery café is a spectacular place for lunch, with wonderful panoramic views around the harbour and the rim of the balcony auspiciously aligned on the horizon.

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In the gallery there are displays of pictures from the Jerwood Collection.

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Brighton Pier: Edward Bawden

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Two Ships: Alfred Wallis

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Poem For A Jug No.4: William Scott

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There was also an exhibition of paintings by Prunella Clough, an artist whose murky paintings of mundane subject matter I’d always previously by-passed and overlooked. Just like Hastings.

CLOUGH, Prunella b.1919

Painter. Born London. Studied at Chelsea School of Art, 1938-9. 1940-5 worked at various clerical and draughtsman’s jobs. 1946-9 lived in London but made visits to East Anglia. 1950-60 developed an interest in urban, industrial subjects, some derived from visits to the Midlands. During the immediate post-war years worked in a neo-romantic style that soon gave way to a concern with the urban environment and the activities of workmen. Many of her subjects during the late 1950s were based on factories, even when she moved away from the figurative and into abstraction. The urban wasteland remains her starting point. The various sensations it provides are then distilled into metaphysical abstracts in which the energy of our everyday environment is clarified. 1947 first solo exhibition held at Leger Gallery; others include Leicester Galleries, 1953, a retrospective at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, 1960, Serpentine Gallery, 1976 and Warwick Arts Trust, 1982.

Frances Spalding

Clough, Prunella, 1919-1999; Fisherman with Sprats

Fishermen With Sprats

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Lorry With Ladder

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Geological Landscape

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Sunset In A Mining Area

Clough, Prunella, 1919-1999; Back Drop

Back Drop

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Electrical Installation

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Still Life (c.1960s)

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Untitled

This is four scouring pads stuck to a board. It’s an acquired taste. Perhaps I’ll like it more next time.
Afterwards we scoured the beach for significant fragments and distillations of everyday chaos.

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Prunella Clough (1919 – 1999) found beauty in the mundane and joy in the industrial landscape.

Intrigued by overlooked and ignored spaces, this extraordinary British artist thought motorway hard shoulders and puddles on a desolate beach were exotic.

This new retrospective of her work celebrates Clough’s early industrial and later experimental works.

The gallery which nestles amongst the fishing boats and net huts of the historic Old Town, reflects some of the key works on display, including Fishermen with Sprats, 1948, Trawlnet, 1946 and Fisherman Carrying Tarpaulin, c. 1948, which represent her early fishing works.

In contrast, Back Drop, 1933, Electrical Installation I, 1959 and Still Life, c. 1960s, reflect Clough’s move towards creating large scale, more abstract works in her later career.

On display until Wednesday 6 July 2016.

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The fishing boats and the net huts already seemed familiar, like I’d seen them somewhere before.

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Hastings Fish: Christopher Corr

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Ordnance Survey of Great Britain, New Popular Edition 1945, Sheet 184 – Hastings
www.VisionofBritain.org.uk

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It was time to go… I reversed, swerved out of there, into the maelstrom of Hackney traffic. A12, Blackwall Tunnel, A2, M25, A21. Let the car drive itself. As a book-dealer, I made the run to the coast on a regular basis. Retirement colonies, modest shops packed with plunder. Fish supper, stroll on the beach… Very nice properties in the Old Town. Catherine Cookson lived here for years.

Dining on Stones: Iain Sinclair

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Scan

Land and Gravel

Unknown Countries: Jerwood Gallery

Frames of reference
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3 Responses to Unknown Countries

  1. Thank you for this beautiful homage to Hastings. You have perfectly portrayed this wonderful seaside town. Isn’t the Jerwood amazing?! What a lovely collection of art pieces in a heavenly building.
    I really love Hastings and it’s good to see it blossoming,
    Thank you
    Chris

  2. Pingback: Retreat & Rebellion | Frames of Reference

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