14-28 November 2009 (note change of date)
Special Feature: Xmas Cards early 20th Century to present day
and Automata (neil Hardy, Sue Evans and others

"The First" Gallery's Xmas Show is eagerly looked forward to by our regular visitors.  It's never too late to start making New Year Resolutions, so we recommend that, this year, you be different and change your habits before New Year...  like, say, right now (!)
Start to be one of our 'regulars' by making your first trip to "the most unusual gallery in the South" (BBC South). If you've found this site during our second week (Nov. 23rd – 28th) please ring first to check that someone's in attendance to let you in, and you can just turn up.  This informal arrangement operates year round, whenever there's no main show on. 

Even during exhibitions, if you wish to – or can only – visit outside our set drop-in times of 2 – 7pm daily (which apply during the first 9 days of every show), the same ring-up-and-turn-up system runs (as long as someone's in, of course!)

This is our 35th consecutive year of mounting the event which, as has become traditional, sources a rare mix of the well-made, the different and the affordable.  Special Features for 2009 are:  more Automata than usual, and a large display of Christmas Cards.

The exhibits / exhibitors have changed somewhat since we sent out mailed publicity, so here's the latest list:


Sue Evans — selection of boats on wheels, swinging pendulum boats and rocking pieces, nearly all bearing her trademark painted seagulls.  Sue must have recently acquired a particularly nice batch of Douglas Fir, a timber with dramatic and resinous grain that's just begging to be blowtorched:  plenty of pieces feature it here, exploited in a wonderful smoky 'water ripples' effect. See her

Rocking Boat Slide Show or Boat Pendulum (30.5 cm / 12" across) 58 [N.B. not a price-rise from last time: this is larger than those we've shown before]

and her Cats with Nestling Kittens / Seals with Nestling Pups, with a natural, velvety-looking blue-grey tint. Also on show is her sculputural piece

Seagull with Tumbling Fish on Dark Water

Neil Hardy — of Fabulous Animals, has done us proud, with seven pieces giving full reign to his surreal daftness, including a design he's distributed to almost no-one else before. We have two slide shows here:

  • Oscar the Ostrich (23cm / 9" min. ht. when down [#2]; 27cm / 10" max. ht. up [#3]) £60

  • Polar Bear Polar Bear (33 cm / 13" h) £120

    (NB 8.5 Mb - don't try on dialup!)
    As the ice melts and the oceans rise, one polar bear pedals himself to safety with his personal refrigeration unit
  •   His work proved extremely popular in September Already, the Paul Spooner celebration here a year ago.  Two will be familiar to those who visited that, the rest we haven't seen before

    John Lumbus   Storm in a Teacup   painted wood;  china teacup

    John Lumbus — has had serious health issues this year, so these two pieces, a shrugging Murry and a Storm in a Teacup [see right John Lumbus   Storm in a Teacup   painted wood;  china teacup] may be the last we'll ever get in wood / ceramic / metal (materials that create dust when you work them:  that's what he has to avoid).  We do hope the problem isn't permanent, and wish him well

    Peter Markey — unless something is stuck in the post, no new work this time (the Markeys are trying to move house, and he's not producing in quantity anyway, now) but we have in stock some colourful, and plain wood, pieces from the past and from more recently.  There are two Markey designs in the Xmas cards display.  And, of course, those perennial favourites, a selection of card automata cut-outs (£2)

    Robert Race — more humorous magic from the master of driftwood:  Surprise Birds, Muttering Birds and a sensational new

    clockwork-operated one "B Annoying" (rods 20cm / 8" h.) 90

    1. Piece at rest, with bee hanging loose from wire loop attached to bird's head;
    2. When clockwork is released, bird rotates, the bee swinging ahead of it; bee wraps itself round the first post, like an irritating fly bird's motion is stopped by this;
    3. Once fully wrapped, bee unwinds until its grip on the post is outweighed by the power of the motor...
    4. ... which allows the bird to rotate round to the other post, where the process starts again.
    From fully wound, the sequence can run for 15 mins.
      Robert co-exhibits with Victor Stuart Graham here in the Spring

    Angela & Laurence St. Leger — six miniature pieces, including four designs new to visitors here;  bucking the trend, they're so busy they couldn't spare more!

    Wanda Sowry, mentioned in some mailed-out leaflets, was unable to supply this time round

    Single items by Jane Ryan, Virginio Mouthino and Jeff Soan are also in the display


    We have a selection of antique cards, a few from the Victorian era, plenty from the 1920s through to the '50s (with many of uncertain date).  While some are used, many are unmarked or unaddressed.  In addition, quite a few of our regular contributors and a some newcomers have been making cards specially for this display. 

    All our "hand-made" cards are entirely made by one person each, not assemblies of ready-made / pre-printed messages and images, like supermarket 'hand-made'.  We indicate, on the item, where mass-produced components (e.g. pre-cut card blanks) have been incorporated, and what is and isn't done by hand, so you know exactly what you're getting.  That said, the prices are around £1.50 – £3.50, rather less than the typical price you see for churned-out, production-line 'hand-made' cards in shops and boutiques.

    Makers confirmed so far:

    Margery Clarke — own original pen-&-ink designs, some cartoons, some serious; 
    a few are laser-printed outlines, each individually hand-coloured by her;  others multiples of the same design, but each drawn afresh (what the art-world perceives as an "original"); also one or two one-off designs.  She also hand-colours "The First" Gallery's own Xmas cards, of which we make available for sale the few unused ones from previous years' sending.  The design for these is usually by Paul Clarke, drawn from ideas generated collaboratively

    tbc: Paul's own "Snow Joke" series, white humorous typographic designs;  possibly others using 'quilled' wood (an experimental technique, still in development)

    Glynis Coleman — a 'new face' here: fabric and stitch designs, involving sparkle, sequins, thread and iridescence (fabrics coloured / made pearlescent by herself, we believe) in very Christmassy imagery, snow scenes, Xmas trees, etc.

    Lynne Hudson — uses hand-made silk paper, with aesthetic seasonal imagery, decorated wit metal stitch;  also re-visiting (at our request) her "Orienteer" design:  a popular, witty card

    Colin MacQueen / Marcia Taylor, advertised in some mailed-out leaflets, may bring their designs in after the Private View date

    Peter Markey — a couple of designs, one professionally printed from the '80s, with hand-coloured additions;  the other laser-printed from one he mailed to his personal and business circle in a previous year, which the Gallery used as its own Xmas card in 2005 (the year we marked his 75th birthday here).  Both hand-coloured by Margery Clarke

    Eric Meadus (1931 – 70) — part-realisation of a long-cherished plan to publish his sophisticated witty designs.  Colour laser-copies, some dramatically actual size, some reduced to A6 folded.  Back in the '60s, before humour was a prevalent feature of Xmas cards, he submitted them, unsuccessfully, to Gordon Fraser for consideration.

    Elizabeth Nash — wide selection of painted silk designs

    Ray / Rachel L. Reynolds, advertised on some mailed-out leaflets, was unable to supply cards, but is showing fabrics (see below)

    Victor Stuart Graham — tbc.  We've not seen this line of his before but (the Mail Gods willing) he's sending some to arrive in time.  Media likely to incorporate thin layers of wood, but beyond that, we're trusting to VSG's taste!


    Jonathan Garratt

    three-footed pots [see linked photo]

    oval-shaped serving dishes, and a few other recent pieces, all wood-fired but in his hallmark bold colours not typically associated with the medium

    Lotte Glob — pre-Y2000 pots, mostly domestic, a few plain daft, and plenty in between:  this phase is unobtainable from her now, since she has begun to focus entirely on sculptural pieces

    Sarah Perry — jewellery (brooches / ear-rings / cufflinks, etc., etc. from her very latest firing:  tbc [posted from London during recent mail disruption]) plus dishes / bowls / vessels, etc. from our stock, bought over a period (mid-'90s – mid-2000s) for our unrealised ceramics touring show

    Also, a selection from our stock, mostly dating from the '90s, by knowns / unknowns e.g. Mike Dodd, Chris Hawks, Richard Ballantyne, Don Glanville, Alvin Betteridge and anon.


    Lynne Hudson — hand-knitted ultra-fine mohair shawls;  her usual eclectic mix of Xmas tree decorations, including some new quilted gold-edged ones, resembling mini-cushions, and non-fabric items like decorated tea-light holders, mizuhiki jewellery, and silk-paper brooches.  She's also contributing to the cards display

    Elizabeth Nash — recent work using dye on unprimed canvases, in familiar avian / natural imagery, including one on the Green Man theme, precursor of next Autumn's exhibition based around her large-scale oeuvre on the subject;  plus her usual mix of richly-coloured carry-cases for spectacles, mobile phones, or iPods (£12 – £14), and specially-made cards

    'Ray' Reynolds [= Rachel Louise Reynolds' new trading style, adopted to avoid confusion with the other Southampton-based textile artist, Rachel Reynolds] — series of new specially-made semi-abstract images in hand-made felt

    Changing Tide 2009 hand-made felt

    (fabric area 18 cm / 7" sq.) on high-grade white paper [visible] in white ready-made frame (30.5 cm / 12" sq.), with stand-back £120. Five others, similar format, various colours in red / green spectrum, on show; one NFS. (Sorry: no cards, which were advertised in mail-out)


    Sue Anderson — two framed woodcut / lino-prints, and several specially hand-made

    concertina-style photo-albums

    (two use pre-designed paper covers (£20);  the rest, her own printed papers (£24)

    H. M. Clarke — various oils, pastels and prints:  as usual, since the Gallery's primary purpose is not to promote its Director's own output (!), the selection is made at the last minute, to fill any gaps in the display!

    Sarah van Niekerk — among the UK's foremost wood-engravers, she trained under Gertrude Hermes.  Several small prints bought at the 2008 Open Portfolio Day

    Tim Robinson, advertised in some mailed-out leaflets, was unable to supply work this time round


    Janet Pontin — "The First" Gallery holds her main stock of enamels since she left Southampton in the late '90s for Cambodia.  Jewellery, pictures, and other small items


    Philip Cox — papier-mâché animals from a master of the medium:

  • Gull Scavenging Ice-Cream Cone (26cm / 10.25" h.; smaller base diam.) £39
  • Gull Scavenging Dropped Chips (29.5cm / 11.625" h.; smaller base diam.) £39
  • various Cats, including one climbing (£30 – £60)

    Jacqui Lea — her trademark "Hopeweaver" Balls, mostly in reclaimed materials and 'woven' aluminium rod (£15 – £30)

    Suzie Marsh — cold-cast bronze pieces, including meerkat, bear and hippo (£39 – £45)

    David Orchard (1926 – 2008) — more carved and pyrograved birds / animals from the late master of the form (very few further chances to obtain these)

    Geoff Poulton — brand-new (finished c.Nov. 4th) Green Man woodcarving in lime (£145)

    Victor Stuart Graham — (Happy 60th Birthday just recently!) usual arresting mixture of boats, houses, and scenes, almost all from reclaimed wood:  low-relief wood boats, one variant has a rope round the gunwales;  a ‘bendy’ [= hinged] tanker;  (new for us)

    several mini beach dioramas - see photo

    one featuring Beachy Head cliff made from a distressed white-painted panel (there'll be a limited number of these ever, since he's got only the one piece of wood with the distinctive patterns!) Other dioramas have separate boats, allowing you to position them where you choose.  Also [in the post] more Tree-O's (witty free-standing Xmas decorations), some small 2-D house Xmas tree hangers, and his own design Xmas cards.  Victor co-exhibits with Robert Race here in the Spring

    All this is complemented by items from our wide-ranging and unusual stock, including wood, jewellery, glass, and ceramics, with familiar elements such as our bargains table, hand-made giftwrap, etc., etc. 

    Could you ask for more? If so, come and find it at The First Gallery's 35th Xmas Show!

    Slide Show of some General Views of the Exhibition

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