The First Gallery

Bitterne, Southampton, UK

1 Burnham Chase
Southampton SO18 5DG.
Tel. (+44) (0)23 80 462723.

Director Hilda Margery Clarke BA (Hons), FRSA.
Member of TEG.

Street map

to enable you to find the First gallery.

The First Gallery is also a private house in Bitterne, where the Clarke family have for many years provided a venue for good but often little-known artists and craftspeople to show and sell their wares. They also have an important rôle in promoting the work of a previous generation of local artists and in keeping their memories alive. Leo Stable, the founder of the John Hansard Gallery on Southampton University Campus was an associate, and the City Art Gallery maintains close links. Lots of people have never heard of The First Gallery (part of an ordinary suburban house); many others have made a mental note to come and have a look. Do feel free to ring for directions. While we are tucked away, we're well worth finding!

1999 Programme

Last summer I find I wrote a detailed optimistic newsletter telling of plans for this year and reporting on the year's events (in particular the remarkable atmosphere of the two-day event 'Four Peas in a Pod' when two potters, Alvin Betteridge & John Cattell, joined forces here with two artists, John Butterworth & Steve Powell, for an exciting week-end in June). As many of you know, circumstances overtook us and we are having to continue without our co-founder.

I daresay that you may be asking the question "What is going to happen to the Gallery?" and the answer is that as far as possible it will carry on. The Gallery itself has been going from strength to strength. We called a halt on the Peter Markey Touring Exhibition The Animated Eye as it had been on the road for nine years, ending it in January at the new St. Barbe Museum, Lymington. We have since launched the Jacqueline Mair tour, Passage from India, Paintings and Prints, which is at the Colour Museum in Bradford until March. It will eventually wend its way to Lymington in January 2000. Incidentally, in addition to that new art exhibition gallery, their further extension for a museum opens this March ...worth a visit to Lymington.

We are now working with Tudor House Museum on an Eric Meadus exhibition there; open from April until early October; it will be changed after three months to allow more work to be seen, some for the first time.

We have had to have one change of plan. We intended to have a Patio Show in June but will require more time so it is postponed until next year and instead Alvin Betteridge will be here giving demonstrations on Sunday,13 June, with a display of his pots for sale. There are also tentative thoughts about a Sarah Perry Day in August but that has be confirmed [now fixed for Saturday 24 July].

Believe it or not, this appears to be our Silver Jubilee year so the October Show is likely to be an assemblage of the faithful over the years with a vaguely silver theme.

And then, folks, Christmas thoughts will be here again and we will have all that worry once more: the worry for The First Gallery is to take the worry out of it for you!

We would like to thank you all for the encouragement and support you have given us, especially latterly; without it The First Gallery would not be.

Hope to see you at Philippa's stunning show.




Paintings & Drawings

Philippa has shown work in mixed exhibitions here at The First Gallery for some years, giving only a taste of her abilities. This show charts her progress from the early detailed and introspective ink-drawings, through the largely 'oils' period (revealing her fascination with machines, in suburban or waterside surroundings) to the recent flowing acrylic landscapes, glowing nudes and her latest abstracts.

She is now in full spate using celebratory colour and bold techniques with great assurance. She is also a professional flautist and bassoonist and has mingled with musicians and artists all her life (her father was the painter, Richard Eurich, RA, OBE and her brother, Crispin, the successful photographer) but now nnostly concentrates on pictures. If she keeps up this outpouring of such quality work there will have to be a follow-up exhibition before someone else finds her!! Watch this space.

Private View Friday 12 March 1999, 6-9pm

13-20 March 1999

2-7pm daily, including first Sunday

Open Morning Sunday 21 March 10.30-2.30

then by appointment until 19 April


Alvin Betteridge
will be giving demonstrations at
The First Gallery
on Sunday 13 June
with a
display of his pots for sale
(click for enlarged image).
John Butterworth
will be aiding and abetting with some of his pictures and recent results of their new collaboration.
Called "B & B"s (!) these are pots thrown by Alvin and glazed by John.

Sunday 13 June 10.30am - 4.30pm

Alvin was Head of Ceramics at Southampton Institute and John was Head of Fine Art. A display of their work will be going into the
Nuffield Theatre Foyer showcase
sometime before the day

Sarah Perry Day

Sarah Perry will be at the Gallery on Sunday 25 July for the day 11am - 4pm (NB previous announcement for Saturday was incorrect). Sarah was taught by Lucie Rie and Hans Coper and makes very beautiful bowl vases in porcelain with richly coloured and lustre glazes. Her work was on display in the Nuffield up to the middle of May.
Sarah's delicate thrown stoneware and porcelain has been seen here regularly for some 20 years. With Takeshi Yasuda, she shared our inaugural "full-time gallery" show in 1984. Her work has since developed into the familiar mouth-watering lustres and rich colours: she now exhibits internationally. Last Xmas, we had a taster of her latest new direction: fired drawings, using a ceramic-glaze "pencil" to draw on thin, parchment-like porcelain "pages". Sarah has promised more of these, now thicker and inspired by fragments of designs from ancient Rome; also there will be bowls and dishes, both large and small, along with a selection of her ever popular porcelain jewelry.

The Stage is set for ...

The First ... 25 Years

The 25th Annual Exhibition

2-9 October 1999

2-7pm daily including Sunday 3 October
Special Open Morning Sunday 10 October 11am-2pm


Something of a 'Retrospective' for all those talented artists (some, alas, no longer with us) who have made the first twenty-five years of 'The First' so successful and memorable
(in approximate order of appearance):

H. M. (Margery) CLARKEpaintings; unusual toys (also "Director")
ALVIN BETTERIDGEpots, gardenware & ceramic sculpture
GEOFF D. CLARKEsilver doll 's house miniatures; jewellery
CLIVE BOWENwood-fired pots
JOHN MALTBYpots & sculpture; automata
SVEND BAYERwood-fired utilitarian pots
PAUL CLARKEpainted model figures; graphics; creative framing
PETER MARKEYautomata; cards & paper cut-outs
DAVID ORCHARDcarved & pyrograved wood bird sculptures
SARAH PERRYstoneware & porcelain pots, sculpture & jewellery
SUZIE MARSHceramic animal sculpture
ERIC MEADUSdrawings & paintings; decorated items
LOTTE GLOBceramic vessels, plates & sculpture
MIKE DODDwood-fired pots
PERRY LANCASTERcarved wood animals
L. S. LOWRYdrawings
ALAN WALLWORKceramic "fossils"
LYNNE HUDSONknitted items
STEPHEN POWELLpaintings & prints
JACQUELINE MAIRmixed media works; cards & giftwrap
KEITH GRANTpaintings
ANDREA BADKINtextile wall-hangings; printed silks; cards
ROBERT RACEautomata; paper cut-outs
MELANIE HOWSEstained glass

Click for a random selection of works by these and other First Gallery Artists

Xmas Show

13-20 November 1999

2-7pm daily including Sunday

- but you can visit right up to 24 December by pre-arrangement - just give us a ring

With prices starting at under £1 (to over £100) the Xmas Show is geared to the season's tighter budgets (occasioned by having to buy many gifts at once). Even so, it is just as unpredictable and diverse as our other events. Again, we have been casting the net wide in search of that elusive mix of the well-made, the unusual and the affordable.

New this time: Janet Pontin's sophisticated enamel images and jewellery; Oenone Randall's quirky copper 2-D animal wall-pieces; deliciously rich paintings by Kate Kirby, from the Hebrides. Smaller-scale works by The First Gallery's regular favourites (e.g. potters Clive Bowen, Lotte Glob, John Maltby & Alvin Betteridge) mingle with our other renownedly high-quality, inventively designed wares in wood, metal, glass, paint and fabric; and we anticipate more things after this goes to press!

Old friends and first-time visitors alike receive our famous warm welcome. Be there, but be quick: the show only runs for eight days!!

25 Years

1974      1999


Free parking right outside   Admission free   No pressure to buy

A Brief Artistic History

of the

First Gallery

A major retrospective of the work of Richard Head was mounted in recent years. Shown here are his Early Rose at Overstrand and his widely reproduced view of the Summerhouse at Painshill Park.

One of Margery Clarke's original inspirations was 'Kettle's Yard', Jim Ede's Cambridge home and gallery, and they have been concerned to keep the ambience domestic and informal in like manner. Although they mount 'organised' shows several times a year, there are always exhibits and an advance phone call will allow you to visit at any time. L.S.Lowry was associated through his photo-biographer Crispin Eurich of Dibden Purlieu (Crispin's father Richard Eurich RA was the subject of a recent [1994] touring exhibition organised by the City Art Gallery and his daughter Philippa Bambach exhibits regularly at the First Gallery). Over the past two years we have had successful one-man shows here of pictures by Richard Head, Stephen Powell and Gil Mutch. New to the 1995 Xmas Show were Simeon Smythe's beautiful wrought metal and Heidi Westgate's translucent pressed glass hangings, some of which tinkled gently as they moved. Last Xmas we had spectacular knitwear, (hand-knitted and designed by Lynne Hudson) and equally dramatic stained glass panels by Mel Howse, glowing with colour as were Rosie Maguire's photos .. all quite stunning. (Every year we get cold feet about the Xmas Show in case we are not able to keep up the exciting standard; in the event, so far, each one has been slightly better than the last. Keep your fingers crossed for us!)

In 1996 the year's highlights were the Meadus exhibition jointly here and at the City Gallery, which many people saw, and the Sarah Perry Day when she came over to exhibit her exquisite pots. Her throwing reflects her training with Lucie Rie, fine and assured, but her glazes grow more beautiful each year. There were not many pots left for her to take home. After the Meadus show we set up a permanent Meadus Alcove here so that some of his work is always on show.

Following the Xmas Show, we invited Lynne Hudson to hold a oneday event early in the year. This was unlike anything we have done before: we installed mirrors for people to see themselves wearing the garment. It was quite a jolly 'mannequin' parade with everyone participating.

The Open Portfolio Day which has been well attended and enjoyed for several years was not supported sufficiently in 1996. We feel that this is too disappointing for the artists for us to continue so there is unlikely to be another one. We shall have to think of something different.

On the other hand, the touring exhibitions are successful beyond our wildest dreams..... The first one "Two Memorable Men: Crispin Eurich photos & L.S. Lowry drawings" toured consecutively for three years (1987-90) (Some of you may have seen it at the City Art Gallery.) We then laid it to rest but recently there have been requests so we re-assembled it and at the [time of writing it] is in North Wales. "The Animated Eye: Paintings & Moving Machines by Peter Markey" began in 1990 and went to six venues. So many pictures sold we had to take it off the road. Initially there were only a few large automata but such was the demand for more models that Peter set to work and provided twenty more smaller ones and an equal number of extra paintings. It then set off again all over Britain and there are bookings until the end of 1998, including one to the Shetland Isles. As it is a selling exhibition the contents change so it does not get stale. The other touring show "Architect at Leisure: watercolours & drawings by Arthur Mattinson (1853-1932)" was more modestly successful, going to six venues, and is lying fallow at the moment. When all three touring exhibitions come here to rest we have a storage problem to solve!

Paul [Clarke, my son] has demonstrated yet another skill. He is, of course, a qualified graphic designer and a professional framer. As well as all that, he made the crates for the tours. This may not sound much but the Peter Markey ones leave curators open-mouthed with wonder. All the models are firmly supported and protected in their specific slots with accompanying detailed advice on how to pack and unpack them. The crates are almost an exhibit in themselves.

For additional thoughts on the history of the Gallery

The First ... 25 Years

Home Page and Current Programme

Summary of 1996-1998 Programme of Events

Street map

to enable you to find the First gallery.

Web design © Wessex Antithesis 1999.