Xmas Shows?  40 of them??

No, we can’t quite believe it, either!

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES — back then, we had no inkling
we might end up keeping the pattern going all this time…

An exhibition for the festive season has been
held at “The First”* every year since 1975
Appropriately, this one has a Ruby-Red theme

* they started before it was called “The First” GALLERY

It’s also a tradition that we don’t get our webpages updated as promptly
as we’d like, and we’ve cleaved to that pattern this year.  Our apologies:
just SO busy getting the show up I haven’t had time to take photos yet!

Sat. 8th – Sat. 22nd Nov.
N. B.  not a full weekend at the end of the show

HOURS — Weekends11am – 6pm, or outside those hours by pre-arrangement
Weekdays:  at any mutually agreed time, including outside the above hours.

For less than 24 hrs. notice, best to ring 023 8046 2723.
Longer than that, or overnight, usually fine to e-mail

(capitals not critical, just to aid your reading it)

Go to our contact-page, if there’s a problem with this non-clickable address

Wooden Rocking Horses
by Nigel O’Shaughnessy

These examples may not be the ones on display

Apart from the porch (which most people miss until they’re on their way out), this is the first view visitors get of the Gallery.
Red-themed pictures, on wall, l. > r., Evening Glow woodcut print by Jutta Manser, Red Cellist and Southampton Docks 2 both oil paintings on board by Hilda Margery Clarke and Philippa Bambach, respectively.  On the sideboard is an array of knitted, knotted and otherwise crafted fabric decorative treats by long-time regular contributor Lynne Hudson, and various Xmas tree decorations, mostly by Margery Clarke.  Lower furthest left, on the crocketed piece of furniture and rather dark in this side-lit shot, is a handmade-felt soap-cover by 2014 ‘New Face’ Penny Sargent.
If they explore downstairs first, most visitors next encounter our main room, of which this is the central display, a spectacular showcasing of South-African-born blacksmith Lucille Scott.  She has gone to town on our Ruby-Red theme, as you can see.
In the background is the main display by potters Alvin Betteridge and Sarah Perry, detailed later.  On the plan-chest (white surface), and in the alcove behind, is mostly Lucille Scott’s work, including her Christmas Tree, which assembles, ‘branch’ by ‘branch’, in order to hang things on (which don’t have to be Christmassy, of course).  She operates from Portsmouth’s Eastney Beam Engine site, also home to a monumental mason and stonecutter, and a glass-worker, whose talents combine in Time and Tide, the circular scuplture in the background.
l. > r., Leaf Bowl and Fold-Formed Bowl both in oiled steel, Dragon Bottle-Openers, hand-forged steel, Heart Hooks both in steel, with different coloured powder-coatings, the aforementioned Tree, hung with steel key-fobs and other decorative hooky things (including decorations designed for Xmas Trees, in felt, knotting and wire, made by Lynne Hudson);  and a steel Red Rose (whose tint, a technical achievement in this medium) is, mea culpa, barely visible in the back-lighting.  Hanging over the alcove are several specimens of what Lucille calls “Squiggle” Frames also powder-coated steel.  By wrapping them, you can decorate them to your taste (examples are on show).  Finally in this shot, her Musical Coat-Hooks, against the alcove wall (not hung when this was taken, due to a stone in the plaster at the precise point I was trying to hammer in a second picture-hook!)
In front of the plan-chest is the living room.
The view of most of the pictures is lost to reflections here, but ‘New Face’ Sue Baker’s papier mâché fish show up well, along with sea- & fish-themed enamels by Janet Pontin.  Sue’s pieces are beautifully hand-painted after being sculpted.
Nigel O’Shaughnessy’s finely-finished rocking-horses, our Special Feature this year, are well illustrated, as is William Walker’s Free Form Vase, using a technique of trapping layers of metal leaf between two strata of glass, which he co-developed with fellow RCA graduate Michael Harris, of Isle of Wight Glass.
Also amply demonstrated in this picture is the ‘feel’ of the exhibits being displayed simply on the furniture available, without using pretentious lighting, or plinths (though there IS one under the blond rocking-horse).  This is intended to reflect the general ambience of anyone’s home — yours included, the very essence of “The First” Gallery;  it deliberately doesn’t look like a shop, nor an Artists’ Open House [not to say they don’t have their place… ].
At the back of the plan-chest is the dining-room (though contiguous with the living-room), containing a display of pots by Alvin Betteridge (on the table) and Sarah Perry (white & aqua work on the wall and surface below), both of whose connections with us stretch back to the 1970s.  In the background is a ‘non-exhibit’, which doesn’t get moved:  an early Sarah Perry pierced ceramic lamp (unilluminated in ths shot), which throws its light out in multiple rays, casting intriguing patterns on its surrounding surfaces.
Margery Clarke’s hand-printed / -painted gift-wrap and John Bunday’s prints and paintings take up most of the corner opposite.  Occupying the rest of the bed-settee are a small selection of Concertina Books (blank for your own deep philosophical jottings, or more prosaic To-Do lists) by Jutta Manser, and handmade books with (mostly) pretty silly short stories, light verse, etc. by Margery Clarke.
Also (partially) visible at left are automatist Peter Lennertz’ new venture into static 3-D images (framed, on the wall), and (in silhouette) Neil Hardy’s Beavers automated piece:  you wind the handle to make them chew at the tree-trunk.  Those who find heaven in the world of all things motive may like to make advance note of our last full-scale exhibition next September [tbc], featuring automata of all sorts.
There’s yet more upstairs, but if you haven’t been tempted so far to come and visit, you probably never will!  Derrick Knight, photographer (with some examples on show), maintains a regular blog Ramblings about his walks and travels (and occasional travails!), and he shot many of the individual exhibits close-up, much better than on my basic-level auto-focus camera.  His daily, well-written (and photographed) offerings are worth a look at any time, but click here for the (densely-illustrated) page describing his visit.
Do note that, apart from 11am – 6pm on Sat. 22nd, and the Sunday Morning Finale (23rd, 10:30am – 1pm), you must contact us to ascertain there will be somebody in to admit you — 023 8046 2723
The show remains open, by pre-arrangement, until Xmas, but in reduced form, thus much of what is illustrated on these pages may have been taken away by its buyers or makers before December (though many pieces could be ordered in time, as long as YOU don’t leave it too late!)

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