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.

E-mail (please follow link)

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!

2004 Programme

Here and There

13-27 March 2004

Paintings of East Kent and Norway


Hilda Margery Clarke

all works are oil on board

To Sun 21 March: 2-7pm daily, thereafter by prior appointment
Open Morning Sunday 28 March 11am-2pm

In 2002, Margery Clarke opted out of responsibility for running 'The First' Gallery and took a long sabbatical. The resultant paintings are to be shown in two stages, the Northern hemisphere first. Ramsgate provides much of the backdrop to the English portion of this initial show.

HMC responds to the majestic sweep of the stacked-up arched promenades and seafront roads; the skyline dominated by the house designed by Augustus Pugin (of Houses of Parliament fame); and the elegance of the resort in early season, peopled but uncrowded.

She absorbs an image by concentrated looking, usually for long minutes (but just for a fleeting glance, if need be). in the studio, the moment is recalled, maybe recomposed, each element tailored into a new though familiar arrangement (reminiscent of L. S. Lowry, her master) in order to distil the essence of what she saw and felt.

The Sands, Ramsgate HMC 2003 450x910mm

Reconstructing the remembered image in a convincing setting may invoke the outlook of mediaeval artists, whereby the most important features appear largest. This malleable approach to perspective and scale is intrinsic to HMC's work and the understanding of it.

The Norwegian Coastal Voyage (itself a long-cherished ambition of hers) is full of grand scenes: fiords, midnight sun, etc. which artists have recorded for centuries. No depictions of Norway could ignore these aspects, and they are represented in larger-scale paintings. But Margery Clarke can capture such grandeur in a work only a handspan or so across (e.g. below). Her unquenchable interest in people is also evident, both on the ship and off.

In all HMC's output, things are usually identifiable, but deliberately not specific: she takes sketchbooks, but no camera, everywhere. This is to allow what she has seen to be filtered later through the distorting-mirror of memory, one of the factors which imbues Margery Clarke's paintings with the "otherness she seeks.

Lyngen Alps 1 HMC 2002 110x240 mm

Margery Clarke Home Page

Water-Themed Secret Sculpture Garden Show 19-27 June 2004

Sat-Sun 10.30-5.30 Mon-Fri by appointment

'The First' Gallery's Secret Sculpture Garden opened in the summer of the Millennium year, for invited makers to show their work. It proved so popular that it has become a biennial event. This time, we're celebrating 30 years of exhibitions, so the show is both inside and outdoors, with the theme of water. Four of the inaugural sculptors are included, though the list is not finalised. For the full roll-call, watch this space. This is an enjoyable event in an unusual setting and well worth a visit: a great way to spend a summer afternoon.

(* = new face at The First)

Expect other Gallery regulars, newcomers and recent 'new faces' to be on display in the house and the garden. Additionally, water-themed pictures from 'The First' Gallery's collection, including David Clegg, Richard Eurich, R.A. (1903 - 92), Keith Grant and Eric Meadus (1931 - 70) will be shown. With them, other pictures, pots and sculpture will be for sale.

Buffalo Wallowing - Suzie Marsh

Elephant Bathing - Suzie Marsh

David MacDiarmid: Goldfish Bowl 2002 - 4 carved Bath stone & gold paint approx. 40cm high x 40 wide x 25 deep £180
To interpret the image, the cutaway is the shape of the bowl, with a gold painted fish and a naturally lichened 'plant-form' (only visible in right-hand shot). The block is the salvaged corner of a window bay, with the sill and part of the upright, from an Edwardian terrace house.

David MacDiarmid: SeaBed c.2000 carved building block [specimen on show] 2004 10cm high x 70 long x 20 wide £120
This photo is not the same as the one on show, which is longer, more spacious and doesn't feature the plant-form. The design can be added to, a block at a time.

Robert Race: Moon Priests automata [rear priest paddles oar and boat dips slightly]
driftwood, nautilus shells & found objects 46cm long x 24 high x 4 deep [wall-mounted]

For more about the First Gallery Outdoor Exhibition space see In-Show Photo-Summary for this Show and the year 2000 Garden Show

Tim Robinson retrospective - Collages, Drawings, Oils & Driftwood Sculptures

(Part of Hampshire Artists Open Studios Week)

August 21st - 30th (Bank Hol. Mon.) and by appt to 4th Sept 2004

Weekend and Bank Holiday hours: 11-7; weekdays: 2-7 (or by prior appt)

(Tim hopes to be present each pm, but check first if you wish to see him)

Then by appt Tues Aug 31st-Sat Sept 4th

Private View Thursday Aug. 26th 7-9pm

Flotsam Girl 1996 driftwood & found objects 44cm high

Tim Robinson pieces (photos Mike Watson)

For more information about Hampshire Artists week 21-30 August 2004, see widely available booklet or contact Wendi Watson 02380 453475
"The First" is Venue 72 on page 37.

Xmas Show Opens 13 November 2004

1 Week Open Access, thereafter by appointment for any goodies left around!


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.

Exhibition runs 2 - 7pm daily, incl. Sunday (or by appt.) until Sat. 20th
Festive Open Morning 11am - 2pm Sun. 21st Nov.

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. 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.

More Detail and Preview Here

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