Jeffery Camp: The Way to Beachy Head, Jerwood, Hastings

Just been down to view the new exhibition at the Jerwood.  
                                                                                          It was an incredibly hot, thundery day.

Nice bodies……

   There was a storm while we were sitting in the gallery cafe – the light was extraordinary – there was some sort of festival on the Stade Open Space, and the crowd of people were illuminated like figures from a Breughel painting. Next thing, it was pouring with rain, and the people disappeared, leaving the space to a solitary paddling seagull….
     So, what did we think of the Jeffrey Camp?
     Many of the paintings were of Beachy Head, with figures looking down from the top – a good sense of the drop, the wind etc. Others were of nudes, some lying in a downland landscape, or on the cliffs, or in one case, on a roof-top? by London Bridge. They were attractive, and we liked them. However, for my taste, too many of the paintings came over all visionary,with

Too wispy……….

wispy elongated bodies floating in the sky. Philosopher said they reminded him of the rather hectic offerings you can buy in places like Tintagel, Cornwall – New Agey air spirit stuff. I know what he means – the shops in question  usually have Goddess shrines in the back room, and sell sparkly rocks, essential oils, dream catchers and CDs of tinkly music.
      In the second exhibition room, the abstract wispiness increased until the paintings were just washes of colour, but there were some nice small pictures – one of a woman with breasts like fried eggs, with lots of other fried eggs floating about, and one of a baby’s head looking like the boiled egg in an egg-cup beside it.
      All in all, the show was OK – better than some of the earlier exhibitions Battleaxe has gnashed her teeth over, but not great art to stop a body in their tracks. It was low-key pleasant to look at, and not annoying – that is something, I suppose. It is alright for us, we are members, but I am not sure how I would have felt if I had had to pay money to see the paintings.
      Unfortunately, we had just viewed some really mind-blowing and genuinely visionary and spiritual art, which did not make a helpful point of comparison when viewing the Jerwood exhibition. On Friday, we went on a long car journey to the Sandham Memorial Chapel,
near Newbury, which Philosopher has wanted to visit for a long time.
The walls of the chapel are covered in murals by Stanley Spencer,
painted to honour the dead of the First World War. It is incredibly poignant, powerful and
moving stuff. Oddly, we learned that the chapel had to be consecrated in
its unpainted state, because the big Resurrection scene that Spencer
wanted to produce included the resurrection of animals – indeed, it
depicted many horses and mules.
       Anyway, back to the Jerwood – I was concerned to see that the gallery
has actually increased its visitor entry prices, despite all the
feedback they must have received about it already being too expensive. I
also read a letter in yesterday’s Observer saying that visitor numbers
are well below target. I can’t really comment on that, as I don’t know
where the writer got his figures from, but certainly, the gallery never
seems overly busy. I have ranted on enough before about their opening times, and the
repeated and prolonged closures for exhibition re-hangs, but I would also say in general terms that for any organisation,
raising prices is not a good way to balance the books if customer demand
is already low.

Stanley Spencer – Resurrection of the Soldiers


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