The First Gallery

Bitterne, Southampton, UK

The most unusual gallery in the south (BBC south)

1 Burnham Chase
Southampton SO18 5DG.
Tel. (+44) (0)23 80 462723.
E-mail (please follow link)

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!

2003 Programme

R.E.-discovered: a centenary celebration of over 50 paintings & drawings by


This is a lovely show to be enjoyed in the warm friendliness for which The First Gallery is known. We will open readily by appointment at times other than set hours.

8th - 29th March 2003

N.B. fixed hours only apply for first week

Sat 8th - Sun 16th incl.

2 - 7pm, or by appt.

Mon 17th - Sat 29th

by appointment at any pre-arranged time


Friday 7th March

6 - 9 pm

Open Morning

Sunday 30th March

11am - 2pm

Open Portfolio Weekend 12-13 July 2003

The Outdoor Show planned for early June has been postponed until 2004. In its stead, we're reviving a format from the 90s: on July 12th / 13th 2003 (11am - 4.30pm) there will be an Open Portfolio Weekend with about 7 artists in attendance, showing and selling prints from their portfolios.

What's original about original prints?

All the prints in this event are works originated by artists, using print-methods that are accepted art-media in their own right. If a work is conceived as a print and made by the same artist, 'The First' Gallery considers it "original". As such, printmaking has a long, honourable history. Artistic luminaries such as Rembrandt and Degas took the print to a high plane of creative and emotional intensity.

Most "prints" are reproductions of existing art-works, using techniques from high-volume 4-colour process, or photocopying. To fuel demand for investment-collecting, the art-trade promotes the idea of "limited editions". These are usually made, with an artist's approval, by skilled technicians whose results the artist signs: they are then plugged as "original". in fact, all artists' prints are "limited", as no-one can handproduce identical items in such quantities. As it's normal for a plate to wear, each specimen is never exactly the same over a long printrun. Some artists even encourage the idea of variations within an edition, e.g. a collograph-plate can be rearranged after every 'pull'.

Printmaking has to move on, exploiting new technologies, so digital photographs and giclées are on offer alongside works in traditional media, such as etching and lithography.

Many different print-methods lithography, photography, monoprints, etching, collography, screen-printing, etc. Price range c.£25 - £180+ N.B. if coming to see a particular artist, it's advisable to ring to check their availability

* new exhibitor.

Pictures at the Exhibition

For a Preview of the remainder of The First Gallery 2003-4 Plans, see
Spring 2003 Newsletter

Architect at Leisure

watercolours drawings plans artefacts

Although ARTHUR MATTINSON (1853-1932) was actively involved in the design of the Blackpool Tower, this exhibition focuses mainly on his art made with no eye to public exposure: early training drawings, fine pen-&-ink and pencil studies and, above all, some 50 years of watercolours. Displaying command of a subtle variety of techniques, these track his artistic growth from student to assured disciple of the masters of the English watercolour school.

Like many of his time, Mattinson was an all-rounder, collecting and annotating prints, doing cabinet-making, observing botany; he epitomised the cultured, ethical Victorian middle-class gentleman. There isn't space at "The First" to hang the entire tour from which Architect at Leisure is drawn, but an extra room will be devoted to the architectural aspects, including plans and construction-details of the Tower, and photographs of the Lancashire and Cheshire halls he drew, as they were, or are, more recently.

Mattinson had a warm, affectionate nature hidden under a reticent exterior. His modesty led him to turn-down a one-man show at the Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, saying he did not think his work good enough. You can now make an unbiased judgement. With many works for sale, it is likely to be the last time so many will be assembled together.

until SUN 28th incl.: 2-7pm daily; from 29th-4th: by appt

Xmas Show 15-23 November 2003


Christmas Shopping needn't be a chore!! Genuinely different art and craftwork, all hand produced, shown in the uniquely welcoming atmosphere of this friendly gallery-in-a-house.

Sat. 15th - Sat. 22nd November
2 - 7pm daily, incl Sunday 16th
with Open Morning Sunday 23rd 11am-2pm

Always chock-full of goodies, the Xmas Show is eagerly awaited by our "regulars". With prices starting at well under £5, there's no ceiling, but lots to choose from between £20 and £50. We aim at enjoyment for everyone in the old Christmas way. As well as several newcomers, we show work by well-known exhibitors who have been with us for years, including Alvin Betteridge, Clive Bowen, Lotte Glob, Peter Markey, Sarah Perry & Robert Race. The fun of this event is that it simply has presents in mind, with delights from the past on show alongside contemporary things. Come and enjoy yourselves. Late entries from Oliver Hawkins, from Arundel, Totemic figures in driftwood and reclaimed objects; David Orchard's bird (and other) sculptures in pyrographed wood, and - a new departure - water-buffalo horn; also boxes, showcases and furniture.

Home Page and Current Programme

Street map

to enable you to find the First gallery.

Web design © Wessex Antithesis 2004.