What do Paul McCartney, Michael Palin, Claire Rayner, Neil Kinnock, the Queen Mother and the kitchen sink have in common? They are all represented at the new Jerwood Gallery exhibition covering the works of John Bratby, which was organised through a crowd sourced appeal at the end of last year.
Bratby was the enfant terrible of the British art world in the 1950s and 60s and is thought to have produced over 3,000 paintings. He moved to Hastings in the late 1970s until his death in 1992 and lived in the wonderfully named Cupola and Tower of the Winds. The Jerwood launched a “Bring us your Bratby” campaign in October 2015 and hundreds of people responded.
The result is a wonderfully electric, vibrant and colourful exhibition with many famous faces, domestic scenes and all sorts of other oddities. I particularly enjoyed the wall of letters received by Bratby, in response to correspondence he had initiated with potential sitters and others, which are now part of the Bratby archive. The replies are fascinating – clearly Bratby was pursuing a political as well as an artistic agenda.
If you are in Hastings, the Bratby exhibition is well worth a visit. You might love it, or hate it but you certainly won’t be bored. It is on until April 17 and tickets are £9 for adults, £3.50 for children and £8 for seniors. The gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday 11am-5pm.
See also the latest programme at the Rye Art Gallery.
Note – Art lovers can follow the Coast Art Trail by train from Rye. Start with the Rye Art Gallery and visit the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings, De la Warr in Bexhill and end up at the Towner in Eastbourne. Trains run every hour – see National Rail for times.
Image: John Bratby archive