If you have not yet been to the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings Old Town, now is the time to go as it offers a wonderful exhibition of John Piper’s work – who visited and lived in Rye Harbour.
Interestingly, there is little made of this in his on-line biographies, or some of the books I looked at. However a friend found in her library Frances Spalding’s book: “John Piper/Myfanwy Piper-Lives in Art”.
This did have a paragraph explaining that John Piper first visited Romney Marsh as a teenager on a camping holiday and that he repeatedly, as a young man, rented Rose Cottage in Rye Harbour as a weekend retreat.
She tells us that John Piper’s extraordinary fertile career stretched over six decades and “in 1946 he and Myfanwy (she was a woman of legendary wisdom and orginality) spent a fortnight exploring the Marsh, staying in Hythe and Rye.”
Frances Spalding suggests:”The creative partnership of John and Myfanwy Piper encompassed not only their long marriage and private and professional lives, but also a huge legacy of lasting achievements in the visual arts, literature and music.”
Many paintings I have seen before of John Piper were ruins of churches so this exhibition was a revelation as it presents so many other works and genre that he produced.
John Piper, English painter, and decorative as well as theatre set designer lived between 1903-92 and is best known for his water colours and aquatints, and for his stained glass at Coventry and Llandaff Cathedrals.
His work, which often focused on the British landscape, included tapestry, book jackets. screen prints , fabrics and ceramics and he was also an official war artist in the Second World War.
The Jerwood Gallery fits well architecturally into the environment of the wooden fisher huts and boats on the Hastings Beach – yet internally the space is modern, and I love that most of the exhibition rooms and the landing have windows with a view – either across the roof tops or out onto the beach.
The Gallery Cafe, which has an outside terrace, (lovely when it gets warmer), is run by the Webbe family who are known for being gurus for local fish lovers as well as offering other good food. Opening hours for the Jerwood are Tuesday-Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays 11am-5pm, with last entry at 4:30pm
Image provided by Jerwood Gallery