Whilst bumbling around in Chichester recently I stumbled across the Oxmarket Gallery, tucked away off East Street. It was open (always a bonus in these Covid days) and free, so I wandered in.
The Gallery was established in 1976 with a vision of providing “flexible modern art space within a beautiful and atmospheric historic building”. What caught my eye at first was the Grade II listed, medieval deconsecrated church (formerly St Andrew’s) which it lives in. Although small, it has three indoor galleries and a courtyard and as is often the case with church buildings, it has a light and spiritual atmosphere which is ideal for enjoying a moment surrounded by art.
Three exhibitions in one
Compelled by an eye-catching sculpture, there were three exhibitions when I wandered in: Houseboat Artists, “In and Out of The Frame” is the work of a group of artists from Shoreham who meet on a houseboat. For those that know the houseboats of Shoreham, you can be confident that they’re an eclectic and interesting bunch.
Then there was also Nettie Rowsell, “Soul Stitches” which is a series of hand embroidered portraits of faces and bodies, and finally David Meeking, “Spaces and Places”. This latter exhibition was the most intriguing to me as it’s described as taking the viewer on “a journey to an imagined space or place from memory providing escapism particularly in the current climate we find ourselves experiencing.” It’s a mixture of oil and mixed media, including layers of paint that having been applied is then scraped back to reveal hidden colours. Of course, as with all exhibitions, some of it you like, some you don’t but that’s half the point isn’t it. All three exhibitions last until the 9th May.
From the 11th to 23rd May Oxmarket Gallery is hosting an exhibition of Fine Art Printmaking with exhibits from Liz Varrall, Ros Pritchard and Mai Osawa amongst others which looks well worth a visit. But if that doesn’t float your boat, the Oxmarket Gallery hosts over 100 exhibitions every year, all of which are free and many of which offer the artworks on show for sale.
Bite size pleasure
The joy of the Oxmarket for me is its small size and secluded spot. It wasn’t busy and it is compact enough to dive into and indulge in the guilty pleasure of enjoyment of art. If you’re one of those that struggle to find the time during a busy week to take time out to visit an exhibition then Oxmarket gives you just a bite-sized chunk of time to appreciate what brings you joy.
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You can find out more at https://oxmarket.com/