At the De La Warr Pavilion: In the Realm of Others

Promotional image from the De la Warr Pavilion

This is a hard exhibition to write about.  This isn’t because the works are poor or the curation substandard but because the people who have created the art on display may not consider themselves artists, and their understanding of their ‘work’ may differ radically from that held by the viewer.  The makers, as the exhibition calls them, are people with neurological impairments and they have been supported in creating the pieces for this exhibition by Project Artworks who are based in Hastings.  The result is a show of quite striking originality, one in which not only the art but also the way of thinking about the creating, viewing and purpose of art lingers long after you’ve left.

One of those featured is Albert Geere.  Geere has been a resident of institutions for 80 years.  The pieces shown here are vibrant, colourful; they play with simplistic lines and stark shapes.  They make you smile.  They all feature buildings.  Block buildings, as if by a child, with little else to be seen.  The art and his story can be separate but once they are entwined new ways of seeing and engaging become possible.

Others also use colour.  For example, Michelle Roberts whose work is in the end room covers the canvas with shapes, animals and objects.  They are all brightly rendered and come across almost like a technicolour reimagining of the earliest cave art.

Alongside this there are mighty abstracts which fizz and zing.  The energy of their creation seemingly still alive now.  These are paired with more considered, smaller scale drawings.  The range is phenomenal, the standard uniformly high.

There are two video installations.  One shows four members of the programme visiting a church on Romney Marsh that functions without electricity.  The other, more interesting, shows the makers themselves at work.  It is, like everything else, compelling and leaves questions about art and purpose hanging.

New works are being created throughout the run of the show.  I was unfortunate enough to be there on a day where nothing was happening.  I will be going back though.  This is an exhibition with few equals.  It deserves, and needs, to be seen.

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