Louise Jones curates exciting exhibitions in two stunning locations
With its stylish Georgian architecture, Truro’s Lemon Street is a classy part of town and has long been the place to find beautiful art. Louise Jones has run Lemon Street Gallery for 22 years; while it’s currently under refurbishment, she is broadening her scope with a fresh new exhibition space in Rock, close to the Camel estuary – perfect for the bright and beautiful summer months.
The gallery launch took place in May, with the inaugural exhibition Scene Change, continuing until August 15 (part 2 follows in September). Vibrant and eclectic, it features work from British artists both established and up-and-coming, with many names that will be familiar as LSG regulars: painters Amelia Humber and Felice Hodges, ceramicists Sutton Taylor and Jason Wason, and historic works by late artists including Prunella Clough, Peter Lanyon, Alan Davie and Barrie Cook.
LSG Rock grew out of a new partnership with artist Jethro Jackson, who has taken a new abstract direction in his art and asked Louise to represent him. With that came a studio move to a new build in Rock, which shows all the signs of becoming an artists’ hub; as well as hosting the gallery, it’s also home to artists Alistair and Fleur Mackie.
LSG Rock joins another sister venue. Nestled in an ancient Cornish village, in the shadow of the moors but only a few miles from the Atlantic coast, Withiel Sculpture Garden is fast becoming an international centre for contemporary sculpture, exhibiting works by more than 50 emerging and established artists.
A gentle stroll through the six acres surrounding the Grade II-listed 17th-century rectory reveals something special around every corner: in the bluebell wood, along the paths and borders, on the formal lawns, and even among the fruit, vegetables and flowers of the kitchen garden. Contemporary sculpture by the likes of Louise Plant, Dominic Welch, Yasuo Terada, Jason Wason, Rosie Musgrave and Guy Stevens sits comfortably alongside an ancient Celtic cross, all overlooked by St Clement’s parish church next door.
Upstairs is now a gallery, like the garden open by appointment. There is a yearly calendar of solo and group exhibitions, with Idylls of the Field by Forest and Found (aka artists Max Bainbridge and Abigail Booth) showing from August 13 to September 24, and esteemed painter Hughie O’Donoghue throughout November.
During the summer months, you can hear international musicians, especially jazz; in September, Raymond MacDonald – saxophonist, composer and chair of Music Psychology and Improvisation at the University of Edinburgh, no less – will play an intimate set.
Louise hails from Scotland, and as a young girl was surrounded by the arts: music, dance and visual. She was inspired by The Third Eye Centre in Glasgow, and later aspired to be a “facilitator”, an ambition she is now fulfilling with her stable of galleries.
While the walls hang with work by eminent artists, Louise is not afraid to push the envelope. Scene Change includes wearable art in the form of luxury silk scarves by Darshana Shilpi Rouget, and Louise is embracing 21st-century innovations in art by exploring the world of digital assets like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). She becomes animated when discussing the month-long online collaboration Poetics, with work by actors Val Kilmer, Vincent d’Onofrio and Laurence Fuller.”
“NFTs are digital images that you can upload and buy, and hang in a virtual space at home,” she says, gesturing to a large screen. “They are big in the USA; I think we’re still a bit wary of them here, but they are out there and it’s an interesting concept.
“I want to stay relevant in the art world. I’m not telling people to go out and buy NFTs, but it’s my responsibility as a curator to keep people up to date so they can make up their own minds. I also offer art consultancy and help people with their collections, so it’s important I offer them breadth and depth.
“And I do find it exciting to think of where it could go. Animations are incredibly skilful – imagine a 3D holographic image in your home. That’s how I see it developing. Making art and it going live around you is incredibly exciting, and still requires an innate ability in colour, form and shape.
“Also, the overheads of mounting a physical exhibition are huge, so you need to be able to sell pieces to cover that cost. The fact that NFTs can sell online for a couple of dollars levels up the playing field, giving a platform to emerging artists.”
Louise is clearly passionate about her role. “I’m driven by a love of what I do,” she beams. “I feel privileged and I never take it for granted.”
CURRENT AND FORTHCOMING EXHIBITIONS:
- Rock: Impermanent Horizon by Jethro Jackson, until August 30
- Withiel 2022, until October 30. Over 50 sculptors including Ann Christopher, Dominic Welch, Louise Plant, Nicolas Moreton, Mark Stonestreet, Rosie Musgrave and others.
- Rock: Scene Change Act II, September 3 to October 1.
- Withiel: Forest and Found Idylls of the Field, August 13 to September 24.
- Withiel: Ashraf Hanna, October 1 to 29.
- Withiel: Ronald F Smith, October 1 to 29.
- Withiel: Hughie O’Donoghue, November 5 to December 3.
LSG Rock, Pityme, Rock, PL27 6PY. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 6pm.
LSG Withiel Sculpture Garden and Galleries. Strictly by appointment only.
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