Canterbury Galleries – Lilford to Sidney Cooper

While taking advantage of Canterbury’s wonderful, and rather short-lived, sunny weather, I decided to take a look at the Lilford Gallery on Palace Street the other day. Located just around the corner from Canterbury Cathedral, this lovely two-storey building housed a really neat collection of contemporary art, many of which are local artists.

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Lilford Gallery, Palace Street. Own photograph.

Upon entering the gallery, I was immediately captivated by the layout of the ground floor. The floor was paved with what appeared to me as polished black granite tiles, while the walls were painted plain white. To me, it was such a classy atmosphere. I even described it as ‘homely’ to a friend I was with at the time. There was even a black leather sofa! Several humanoid sculptures by Rick Kirby stood boldly near the front of the store, two of which were made up entirely of stars (both entitled Witness), the other entirely of circles (Female Figure). Several paintings hung in the room, small-scale stylistic sculptures stood on tall white pedestals, and a range of decorative objects shimmered within their glass display cabinets. In the far corner of the room was a raised platform; displayed on its walls were several land- and sea-scape paintings by Norwich-based painter, Garry Pereira, as part of his solo exhibition These Things Take Time. At first glance I had interpreted them as photographs, specifically The White Cloud.

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Detail from Garry Pereira, The White Cloud. Own photograph.

In one of the cabinets beside these paintings were two bird-themed still-life sculptures by Polly Morgan. The one I was most interested in was Sunny Side Up, the title being a pun on eggs. It consisted of a baby chick hatching, I assume, from a light bulb, complete with a yellow dot painted on to each broken shard of glass to mimic a fried egg.

The upstairs gallery felt like the perfect place for a lounge. Again, there was a black leather sofa with a coffee table; laid on top of it were catalogues and books on the featured artists. This room contained the works of several noticeable figures, such as Tracey Emin and Banksy. Their website also mentions a few Damien Hirsts in their collection. On display were an array of painterly genres and styles. The screenprints and woodcuts of Swoon were hung in a corner by a large window that shone through the Chandelier of Luke Jerram. On the adjacent wall were Abstract Expressionist-type paintings by Andrew Hood. Works by Billy Childish – yes, the well-known singer – lined the upper half of staircase, accompanied by Jonathan Stewardson’s street scenes.

Image Upstairs area of the Lilford Gallery. Own photograph.

Overall, the Lilford Gallery is a lovely little gem in the heart of one of the most important cities in the world. The staff are friendly and helpful, at least that was the case with Louise, an assistant at the gallery who apparently had lectures with me last term. I felt so guilty when I couldn’t recognise her. My friend and I had a lovely chat with her, before heading out into the tourist-filled street.

After an amazing detour into Canterbury Cathedral, and later for food at Poppins Café, we decided to quickly browse the Sidney Cooper Gallery, located on the St Peter’s Street, not too far from the Westgate, the largest surviving city gate in England. The gallery is run by the nearby Canterbury Christ Church University, and is absolutely tiny. The gallery section is basically one large and one small room, not including the reception area.

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Canterbury Cathedral. Own photograph.

At the time of our visit, they were holding a Hayward Touring exhibition entitled Michael Craig-Martin: Alphabet, a series of 26 screenprints, from A to Z, in his signature style of overlaying images against a vivid monochrome background. Personally, I’m not a fan of Craig-Martin’s screenprints work, but this series is one that actually requires some thought. Each letter is depicted with an everyday object (e.g. A is with an open umbrella), and their relation with each other isn’t exactly obvious. In the adjacent, smaller room is a video of him explaining some of his older works.

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Michael Craig-Martin, Alphabet, 2007. Image via www.wordpress.com.

Though the exhibition was small, one could easily spend an hour in there just deciphering the relationship between the letters and their associated image. I can imagine it would be quite fun, yet also potentially quite annoying.

In other news, I will be attending the Affordable Art Fair at Battersea Park tomorrow! This will be my first time at an art fair, so I will definitely be making a post on it. Keep checking this space!!!

These Things Take Time runs until 25th April 2013 at Lilford Gallery Palace Street, Canterbury, www.lilfordgallery.com.

Michael Craig-Martin: Alphabet runs until 23rd March 2013 at the Sidney Cooper Gallery, Canterbury, www.canterbury.ac.uk/sidney-cooper.

Affordable Art Fair Battersea runs until 10th March 2013 at Battersea Evolution, London, www.affordableartfair.com/battersea.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Chrissie says:

    This is really cool Nigel!! 🙂 I just have one question: Canterbury is one of the most important ‘cities’ in the world?? 😛

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