Sussex-wide entries for major lockdown art celebration

Chichester’s Oxmarket Gallery celebrates our artistic response to lockdown in a major new exhibition which has drawn entries from across West Sussex and beyond.

Monday, 10th August 2020, 8:37 am
Gallery chairman Sophie Hull
Gallery chairman Sophie Hull

Entries from Chichester, Worthing, Horsham, Crawley, Haywards Heath and Brighton have been complemented by entries from London and as far away as Scotland.

The result is the gallery’s Knockout Lockdown Art Competition which runs from August 11– 23 – an exhibition which will crown a “wonderful” return to opening, says gallery chairman Sophie Hull.

“The feedback we have had on all our COVID preparations has been fantastic.

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“It has all been very well received. Lots of people have said how good our preparations have been. We have got a one-way system around the gallery; we have got temperature-taking and sanitisers and signage; and it is a huge space where people can social-distance very easily.

“It has all gone very well. It was a soft reopening. We didn’t over-promote it. We wanted to see how things went, and now that we are fully reopen, we are raring to go. We have had an amazing reaction.”

Sophie is predicting more of the same as the gallery unveils the entries in its Knockout Lockdown Art Competition.

“We had well over 90 entries, and we are going to display all of them. It is going to be a very big exhibition.”

A panel of judges will select the winners of the three top prizes, and there will also be an under-12s prize: “The entries in the under-12 category have been amazing.

“Really we just wanted people to express what lockdown has meant for them. Quite a few people have been looking out of their windows because they have been confined, and we have also had the Thursday hand-clapping, all these things reflected in the entries.

“We have had a wonderful array of art sizes, small to large, ceramics, watercolours, acrylics… a really superb range of entries. I would say that it has all certainly exceeded expectations.

“People have been using art to help with their mental health as well. I think lockdown has shown how art can help us express ourselves.

“So many people have tried it and have found confidence and comfort in putting something together. There have been a lot of programmes like the Grayson Perry and TV things. There has been a lot of talk about the value of art to the way we are, but everyone is different, and it has been a wonderful means of self-expression.

“We are sure that we have got a lot of first-time artists here alongside the more serious, well-established artists, and that’s great – people who have been tempted to try art because of all that has been going on. And that is wonderful, the fact that new artists have been emerging. We are hoping that they will continue to create art.“

Any sale proceeds from the exhibition will go to the Oxmarket Gallery’s chosen charity for the Knockout Lockdown Art Competition, Love Your Hospital, the dedicated charity of Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

The competition also celebrates the fact that the Oxmarket itself has survived the crisis. In fact, more than survived it.

“I think we are very well placed for the future. We are working on a couple of very high-profile exhibitions for later this year. The future looks very good for us!”

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