"The First" Gallery Newsletter Spring 2006

Peter Markey's 75th birthday celebration exhibition was the culmination of' "The First" Gallery's 30th anniversary season. The response, nationwide and beyond, from his fellow makers and admirers made for a resoundingly successful show. As a Grand Finale, the Open Morning (on the last Sunday of the exhibition) was extended into the afternoon for a number of specially invited guests, including many of Peter's long-standing friends. This was the day after his birthday, and he turned up without an inkling that anything extra had been laid on. He hadn't picked up even a whisper about the portion of the exhibition contributed by other automatists. Alan Mahon, a collector from Ireland, took these splendid photos of Peter, the exhibits and the guests, and we hope more of them will be displayed on the site in the near future.
Peter Markey enjoying Paul Spooner's birthday gift to him

It was a wonderful day: brilliant sunshine; "de-lish" food (courtesy Margery, and our good friends Yvonne Gee and Lynne Hudson); sparkling company, with that inimitable 'buzz' emanating from many like-minded people engaging with each other; and not forgetting our (possibly unique?) "skyscraper" gazebo, erected by the good offices of George Roberts (who made the fittings) and Andy Hudson, who helped us get the thing up. Also thanks to Derry and Anne Marchant, who valiantly dealt with serving the food and drink.

This year was due to be a quiet one, events-wise, since we needed to get our noses to the grindstone preparing for our next touring exhibitions, which had been pencilled in for this Summer / Autumn. Due to Margery's health concerns over the previous year, we've been watching these dates slipping, so we decided it was too much to launch both tours at once. Eric Meadus: A Visionary Journey has been postponed until (probably) 2009, thus it may well finish in his 80th anniversary year 2011 (in the world of municipal galleries, that's not so far off: they start considering provisional exhibition schedules 18 - 24 months ahead). However The Melting Pot is now due to start as early as possible in 2007, showcasing our collections of Clive Bowen, Sarah Perry and Takeshi Yasuda alongside recent and new pieces produced specially for the tour. Combined, their three cultural heritages (African, Eastern European, Oriental, English traditional) incorporate the vast majority of the influences currently affecting British ceramics.

2006 had originally been mooted as the launch-date for the Eric Meadus, because it's his 75th anniversary. Since part of our "policy" (inasmuch as we have anything so formal!) is to keep his flame alive, we are commemorating his birthday (18 May 1931) in a small way with some activities around two exhibitions of his paper-based work (most of them never before exhibited):

[regulars, please note: unusual night for our Previews]

Thursday 18th May 6 - 9 pm
PRIVATE VIEW at "The First" Gallery

Friday 19th May 2 - 7 pm
Exhibition open to view, at "The First" Gallery

Onslow Road, looking South, with St. Andrew's Church in distance 1960 conte & pencil. Later in the 60s, Eric Meadus turned down the offer to be organist at St Andrew's. A much-changed vista: the former British Gas offices now dominate the distant view and St. Andrew's (known as The Scotch Church, from its original Presbyterian denomination - it was later United Reformed) with its beautifully mellowed yellow brick, and "cake-icing" finials, was demolished ten or fifteen years ago, to be replaced by an insurance office.

Onslow Road / Lyon St junction, looking South
1961 pencil & gouache.
The fragment of building on the right may well be the Bevois Castle inn, currently on the market. The railings on the left are still there, the boundary of the place of worship on the junction of Cranbury Avenue and Onslow Road.
Gas Monument & Haymarket pub, Hanover Bldgs / Queensway junction
c.1960 pencil.
All three buildings in the background have long gone, replaced by Safeways (and other outlets more recently). The Gas Monument, a not-so-covert bit of advertising to mark the beneficence of the Gas Company for providing the gas-stands throughout the City, was removed from the junction when the roundabout was installed / modified [not sure which!]. It was re-erected, restored, to a new location within Hoglands / Houndwell Parks.

Saturday 20th May 11am - 7 pm Exhibition open to view, at "The First" Gallery

IDENTIFICATION DAY: we'd like anyone with local knowledge of Southampton and its hinterland in the early 60s to come along and help identify the distinctive, but intriguingly unannotated, landmarks and unsung corners of his home town that caught Eric Meadus' eye.

While local historians, esp. those with photographic collections, would be invaluable to this process, anyone who may have walked past the same locations day in, day out, e.g. on their way to work, might be prompted to remember what they think they've forgotten by the sight of these drawings . The discussions occasioned by the meeting of like minds often prompts more detailed recall. (During a previous exhibition, a retired beat policeman was able to identify several locations, including some consisting just of rooflines, since the police are trained to keep an eye on upper storeys, as Eric Meadus - for more aesthetic reasons! - was also wont to do. So you don't need any particular historical knowledge to be of help).

Eric drew in many areas, as well as Swaythling for which he is renowned: the City Centre (esp. round the Pirelli factory; Central Station / Polygon; Bedford Place; Manchester Street; Portland Terrace; Chapel & The Deanery; Terminus Terrace; Queen's Park, down to the Floating Bridge terminal) almost any area which had bomb-sites; St. Mary's; Northam; Mount Pleasant; Bevois Valley; probably Derby Road area (before it became red-light); St. Denys; Shirley (we believe); West End; Netley; Weston; Eastleigh; Chandler's Ford. Anyone familiar with those areas may help in our research.

Friday 19th to Wednesday 31st May (incl.) Tues - Sat 10am - 5pm
DISPLAY of LOCAL IMAGES by Eric Meadus, at PETER RHODES Bookshop
21 Portswood Road Southampton (023) 8039 9003

For those who do not already know of this bookshop, it is a treasure worth finding. Not only is it brimming with tempting secondhand books, but really good tea and coffee, etc. are served. There are chairs and little tables where you can sit in the friendly atmosphere for as long as you like. In the summer some are outside (in fact, they've already appeared on sunny days this year!)

Sunday 21st 11 am - 2 pm

Sunday 21st 2.45pm (till approx. 4.30 / 5pm)
RIDE-&-WALK-ABOUT starting at Peter Rhodes Bookshop (window display will be viewable, even if not entire exhibition there: see below).


On Sunday, the shop is normally closed, but it is possible Peter may open specially for the half-hour before the Ride-&-Walk-about. Eric Meadus was born in Rigby Road, right round the corner.

Monday 22nd to Wednesday 31st May (incl.)
Exhibition at "The First" open BY APPOINTMENT
- this can be mornings, afternoons or evenings
(from Tuesday 23rd, exhibition at Peter Rhodes continues,
open during his shop hours: Tues-Sat 10-5)

At the time of going to press, certain details of the Ride-&-Walk-about have not been finalised, e.g. Laminated copies of some drawings of the locations to be visited should be on hand during the trip. As well as Bevois Valley, it is likely to encompass parts of St Denys, St Mary's and Swaythling, although other locations conveniently en route to Peter Rhodes from "The First" may only be covered by those who attend the Special Opening. In 1 - 2 hours, it may not be possible to cover all this ground. Subject to demand, we may do a second (possibly different) route on the following Sunday. (This might cover the more central zone, e.g. Northam, St Mary's, City Centre).

We will be glad of offers of lifts as the whole circuit covers some distance and is discontinous. If you are able to help with this, please ring "The First" Gallery (023) 8046 2723. (Thank you, in anticipation).

Modesty almost prevents Margery mentioning her own show of works on paper in the foyer of Southampton City Art Gallery, but Paul has no such qualms: it opens on 10 June and runs until the end of July. And you can see a work of hers (Bowlers, given a Highly Commended award) in the City Gallery's The Art of Pattern Open Exhibition until 26th March.

Sometime in August, date tbc, we hope to hold a photographer's Open Portfolio event (similar to that in 2003 and previous years in the 90s) to mark the 70th anniversary of Crispin Eurich. It's possible that we'll co-incide this with the (long overdue) formal launch of a website, from where visitors could purchase digital / fibre-based photographic prints of some of his images. All that, though, belongs in another newsletter.

We hope to see you at one or another of the Eric Meadus events, but please don't forget we're open here by appointment at any suitable time. If there's something you saw here at our last Christmas Show, this time last year, or even 10 years ago (!), and are now thinking: "that would make an ideal present for ....... ", please give us a ring to discuss it: we'll do our best to source another one, dig one out of our stock, or lay out a selection of similar things for you to choose from when you visit. That's what we're here for!!

Margery & Paul Clarke
February 2006

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