A bank holiday visit to a rainy and basically shut Lewes – even though it’s the end of August and the Artwave Festival is in full swing, everything feels rather dead. But this beautiful historic town has plenty of Georgian and older architecture to explore and enjoy, and the views of the surrounding South Downs, visible over rooftops and down hilly cobbled streets are very attractive.
Pick up the smart green brochure anywhere – it includes artists’ open houses, galleries and studios in and around Lewes, Newhaven, Seaford and rural locations. You’d need a car to see everything, so we enjoyed a taster set of venues in the centre of Lewes.
45 Lansdown Gallery
A short walk from the station first to this light, white and welcoming little gallery featuring the work of two oil painters specialising in impressionistic landscapes and flower studies.
Sarah Burges – softness meets energy
Jane Wateridge – vibrant colours were particularly impressive in ‘Wild Flowers’ and ‘Scarlet’
47 Lewes Friends’ Meeting House
This great Georgian Quaker building really needs better lighting to display the varied range of painting, jewellery and ceramics on offer, but especially noticed:
No name label – Steampunk copper penny necklaces
John Fisher – detailed yet mysterious storytelling paintings
13 Lewes House of Friendship
A Georgian house full of history, currently a welcoming community centre for elderly people.
Janet Keith – Paintings with terrific colour sense; contemporary, vibrant and now, all sunny lightness on this dreary day.
09 Sabine Portela at Fisher Street Studios
Up the stairs and under a Hobbit-sized portal into this loft studio, almost entirely window. Sabine’s mostly large scale works in the unusual medium of cement and rusted iron filings are not the most obvious candidates for beauty, but the finished paintings have a pronounced texture, their surfaces reminiscent of brushed fur, rippling grass and turbulent planets and skies, in deep dark tones with subtle gleams of silvery glitter.
02 Hop Gallery
Sheila and Peter Marlborough present their oil painting show in this well lit stone flagged venue.
Peter – Colour sweeps, tone and mood, landscape and views remembered and suggested in tranquility. Loved ‘Caerleon Autumn.’
Sheila – Engrossing landscapes seen from above, abstract responses with lettering and words floating through the images.
03 The Hop Studio
Across the courtyard to this little studio for Neeta Pedersen’s witchy and quirky digital art prints and sculptures
43 Pelham House Hotel
A smart, stylish Georgian hotel with the nicest loos in Lewes and a varied display of paintings, prints, silk screens and sculptures throughout the building and gardens.
14 The Hive
A high street venue showing a selection of work by the resident colony of artists. There’s a sense of delicate lightness in all the work here; ceramics, engravings, prints and jewellery.
The natural world inspires Keith Pettit’s small and infinitely detailed engravings, with a timeless feel, Rachel Bell’s pierced and patterned ceramics and Phoebe Sherwood Moore’s tiny silvered acorn jewellery.
17 T.A.T.E. Lewes
A life-drawing show featuring compassionate studies of ‘real’ bodies and faces, hosted by the long-established Brewers Arms pub. Peter Bushell’s oils and Pat Hopkins’ watercolours were particularly accomplished, but the dingy lighting did make it very difficult to see the work in the detail it deserved. Atmosphere’s all very well but we do need to see the art we’ve come to enjoy!
18 Hibbert Room
And finally, to the Westgate chapel next door for some vintage Lee Miller prints paired with new artwork by Chailey School students – past meets present in another of Lewes’ history-steeped public rooms. Tea and home made cake £2.50.
The Festival continues until 7th September – see the website www.artwavefestival.org for full details, dates and times.