All about Gin – Myth and legend

The first confirmed date for the production of gin is the early 17th century in Holland, although claims have been made that it was produced prior to this in Italy. In Holland it was produced as a medicine and sold in chemist shops to treat stomach complaints, gout and gallstones.

Dutch Courage

English troops fighting alongside the Dutch in the Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) noticed that the Dutch soldiers were extremely courageous in battle. This bravery was attributed to the calming effects of the medicinal elixir known as gin, small bottles of which where carried by Dutch troops hanging from their belts. English troops soon followed their Dutch counterparts example.

Hot Gin and Gingerbread

Whenever the weather turned cold in 18th Century London, crowds would gather to explore the stalls and tents selling hot gin and gingerbread that popped up along the frozen River Thames, at what became known as the London Frost Fairs.

The Gin Craze and Mothers Ruin

Historians attribute gin as being England’s first drug craze and an early harbinger of binge drinking! Its consumption was particularly marked in women, thus its various female nicknames including Mothers Ruin, which is said to describe the disastrous effects on the family as a consequence of mothers drunk on gin.

Hogarth depicted the perceived evils of gin drinking in his etching and engraving ‘Gin Lane’, published as a pair with ‘Beer Street’ in 1751. The images were designed to advocate the merits of beer drinking, compared to the evils of gin drinking. Thus ‘Beer Street’ depicts happy and healthy residents going about their daily lives, whereas ‘Gin Lane’ shows shocking scenes of infanticide, starvation, madness, decay and suicide.

The Gin Riots

The Gin Act was introduced in London in 1736, in an attempt to tackle the burgeoning problem of alcohol abuse by the poor, widely attributed to gin consumption. The Gin Act made gin prohibitively expensive. A licence to retail gin cost £50 and duty was raised fivefold to £1 per gallon with the smallest quantity you could buy being two gallons. The Prime Minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and Dr. Samuel Johnson were among those who opposed the Act as they considered it could not be enforced against the will of the common people. They were right. Riots broke out and the law was widely and openly flouted, with gin production going underground and consumption continuing to rise.

The Gin Act was finally repealed in 1742 as unenforceable and a new policy, which distillers helped to draft was introduced.

The Birth of the Gin and Tonic

As the British Crown took over the governance of India, British immigrants began to struggle with the ravages of malaria. A local cure came from the bark of the cinchona or ‘fever’ tree, which contained the notoriously bitter quinine. To make it more palatable, sugar, lime, ice and gin were added – and the G&T was born.

Related Articles: for further information and to download the 2016-2017 artist directory

Published in Aspect County April 2017 edition

Let there be light… A certain kind of light at Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne until 7 May 2017


– We Stand Behind the Sky by Richard Heys –

England’s South Coast is the sunniest place in the UK with Eastbourne frequently topping the sunshine league, therefore it seems a fitting location for this conceptual homage to the theme of light. Drawn from the Arts Council’s huge national collection it is also one of the best exhibitions I have seen at Towner for some years.

Given its function as the basis for vision, light has long fascinated artists both as a material and as a subject and the vast majority of art concerned with making the world visible in some sense speaks of light. A Certain Kind of Light however explores how artists have responded to light, its materiality, transience and effect.  The exhibition brings together artworks that reflect the relationship between light and a wide range of themes from brightness, colour and perception to transformation, energy and the passage of time. Encompassing paintings, sculpture, video, photography, drawing and immersive installations, it features artworks created from the 1960s to the present day by almost thirty leading artists including David Batchelor, Ceal Floyer, Raphael Hefti, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, L S Lowry, Katie Paterson, Peter Sedgley, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans.

The exhibition considers the different ways artists have explored the various aspects of light, from its importance as a source of illumination, as a pure sculptural material, as a mysterious force and as a source of energy that can be conceptually converted into other forms.

Outstanding exhibits for me include Katie Paterson’s vast glitter ball revolving between two projectors creating an ever-turning cosmos of stars gliding across the gallery walls; Mark Garry’s exquisite thread rainbow which appears at first to be a beam of light passing at ceiling height between two galleries and then transforms into a light-splitting prism as you pass below. In fact in actuality it is simply a sheaf of coloured threads stretched between two walls, affected by ambient air and the gallery spotlights; David Batchelor’s marvellous cascade of coloured plastic bottles and Seascape by L.S. Lowry.

A Certain Kind of Light is the second in a series of exhibitions at Towner curated as part of The Arts Council Collection National Partners Programme. Towner is an Arts Council Collection National Partner 2016-19. Founded in 1946, The Arts Council Collection is the largest national loan collection of British modern and contemporary art and is managed on their behalf by the Hayward Gallery. As part of the Collection’s 70th Anniversary celebrations, the National Partners Programme will see four major galleries; Birmingham Museum Trust, Liverpool’s Walker Gallery, Yorkshire Sculpture Park and Towner, working together over a three year period, hosting a series of new exhibitions.

Towner Art Gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays

10.00am-5.00pm. Free Admission

An Afterwards Again, 2017; site-specific installation by Mark Garry

Plastic Bottle Installation by David Batchelor

Artist in Focus

Contemporary Sussex based artist whose work resonates with the theme of light and would not have been out of place in the Towner exhibition is Richard Heys.

Richard’s work is primarily non-figurative, exploring pure colour and form and the substance of paint and ground. He creates work with presence and countenance.

Richard works in a light-filled studio in Forest Row exploring techniques and processes, which disguise the hand. This limitation enables a greater freedom and means of expression. He explores light and darkness and pure lyrical colour journeys, working with transparency and multiple glazing creating vibrant surfaces. He is engaged in a passionate personal journey to rediscover beauty.

Richard is committed to colour and forgetting. He says, “I attempt a self-forgetting, a side- stepping of rational processes to allow moments of creative innocence… This side stepping, deflecting quick answers and slick resolve, leads me on a passionate journey through the worlds of colour, both outer and inner. In the realisation of a finished work I recover mystery in this world of the known and work standing before the unknown.”


Arrival by Richard Heys for further information and to download the 2016-2017 artist directory

Published in Aspect County March 2017 edition/ Articulate

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” ― The Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

– Mad Hatters Tea Party at The Sanderson Hotel –

The serving of afternoon tea has experienced a truly epic resurgence in popularity over the last decade, now featuring at the top of most Londoners to do list. This most quintessential of English customs is however a relatively new tradition.

Whilst the custom of drinking tea dates back to the third millennium BC in China and was popularised in England during the 1660s by King Charles II and his wife the Portuguese Infanta Catherine de Braganza, it was not until the mid 19th century that the concept of ‘afternoon tea’ first appeared. Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, is widely attributed with introducing afternoon tea in England around 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon and would ask that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room at Woburn Abbey during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her in her rooms. This practice became so popular that the Duchess continued it when she returned to London after the summer.

This pause for afternoon tea soon became a fashionable social event and during the 1880’s upper-class and society women began changing into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea, which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock. Afternoon tea is distinct from the more substantial high tea, which was traditionally served in middle and lower class households later in the day in place of dinner. The names derive from the height of the tables, high tea being served at a dinner table.

To recognise the best in afternoon tea service and creativity, the London Afternoon Tea awards sponsored by, look for outstanding delivery in all aspects of the afternoon tea experience including service, food and drink. Over 30 of London’s finest hotels and restaurants were shortlisted in 2016, with the top four awards presented as follows:

A further fourteen establishments were awarded highly commended:

  • The Langham London
  • Fortnum & Mason
  • Harrods – Georgian Restaurant
  • Sketch
  • The Milestone Hotel
  • Brown’s Hotel, Mayfair
  • The Connaught
  • The Goring
  • Royal Garden Hotel
  • Corinthia London
  • The Dorchester
  • Ting @ Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard
  • The Lanesborough
  • Conrad London St James

Claridge’s, Brook Street, Mayfair W1K 4HR


Although Claridge’s began life as a single house hotel at 51 Brook Street it soon began to grow both in size and reputation, becoming a favourite with both royalty and European heads of state during the late 1800’s. Claridge’s was purchased and significantly remodelled by Richard D’Oyly Carte, owner of the Savoy at the end of the nineteenth century.

Having been significantly updated again at the end of the twentieth century, Claridge’s still retains its timeless elegance and luxury ranking today, with the likes of Jade Jagger and Lulu Guinness describing it as their ultimate treat.

Served daily between 2.45pm and 5.30pm in the splendour of Thierry Despont’s magnificent Foyer, inspired by the 1930s’ heyday of art deco, Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s is truly a magical experience and one you will want to return to time and again.


To make a reservation visit the website:

The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London SW1X 7LA


The Mandarin Oriental overlooking Hyde Park and Knightsbridge exudes an enticing mix of elegance and luxury. Currently undergoing an 18- month renovation programme, the hotel will remain open throughout, however afternoon tea will temporarily be served in the Loggia whilst the Rosebery Lounge undergoes a soft refurbishment.

To make a reservation visit the website:

Sanderson Hotel, 50 Berners Street, London W1T 3NG


Served between 12.30 – 4pm Monday – Saturday and 1pm – 5pm on Sunday Afternoon Tea at the Sanderson is a splendidly eccentric affair. Themed around the Mad Hatters Tea Party of Alice in Wonderland fame, you can expect menus hidden inside vintage books, teapots adorned with kings and queens, sandwich plates decorated with birdcages, carousels and ticking clocks upon which rest savoury, specialty sandwiches.


To make a reservation visit the website:

Park Room at Grosvenor House, Park Lane, Mayfair, London, W1K 7TN


Built on the site of Grosvenor House, the London home of the Duke of Westminster, the Grosvenor house Hotel has a long and aristocratic pedigree dating back to the 17th Century. Situated directly on Park Lane and now part of the JW Marriott Hotel group, the Hotel first opened its doors back in May 1929.

Afternoon Tea at Grosvenor House is served daily between 12.30 and 6pm in the Park Room. With the design inspired by its close proximity to the Royal Park, the tranquility of the Park Room offers welcome respite from the shops and sights of Park Lane and Mayfair with a varied menu; featuring Afternoon Tea as well as a la carte options and a creative Cocktail and Champagne menu at the bar.


To make a reservation visit the website:

Afternoon Tea Etiquette!

Milk or Tea First?

This is possibly one of the most debated questions in the tea world; however most now adhere to the convention of pouring the tea first, thus allowing the recipient to flavour the tea to their own personal preference.


Place your spoon in a 6 o’clock position in the cup and fold the tea towards the 12 o’clock position whilst making sure not to ‘clink’ the spoon against the sides of the cup.

Pinkies up?

There is a common misconception about the need to outstretch your little finger whilst drinking tea; however etiquette experts state that this is not the case.

Which goes first, the jam or the cream?

Both the Cornish and Devonshire people lay claim to the invention of the Cream Tea, and each have a view on the order of the toppings. The Devon tradition is cream first with jam spread on top whilst the Cornish tradition is jam first topped off with clotted cream….

Published in Aspect County Magazine February 2017

Art raises a lot of questions. That’s what it does…!

– Simone Riley –

As a consequence of the volatile economic environment in which we are currently residing, more and more people are considering buying original art not just as a means of enhancing their work and living environments, but also as an investment for the future.

Knowing what or where to buy can be quite daunting and I am frequently contacted by people wishing to invest an inheritance or windfall, or begin an art collection as part of their pension planning, asking for support and advice. As with all investments there is an element of risk, therefore my initial advice is always to buy what you love. With a huge array of types and styles of original art now available in the marketplace and opportunities to view and buy art ever increasing, it is also important to be thorough in your preparation and research before you buy.

Below is a brief check-list to get you started:


Preparation is key to everything and shopping for original art is no exception. Take some time to think about your requirements. If you intend to display the art you buy, have an idea of the spaces you have available. Make sure you are familiar with colours, the degree of daylight and general surroundings of where art work could be placed in your home, garden or office.

Remember direct sunlight and heat can be very damaging to original artwork, causing among other things fading, cracking and buckling, which could affect the resale value.


Clearly identify your budget. If you are intending to buy art as an investment, study the market thoroughly or pay for independent advice.


When you begin looking, make notes. Make a note of Artists whose work you enjoy viewing in public galleries and museums or that you see in magazines. Make a note of the artists you like in commercial galleries and art fairs you visit, including size and price of the work. See if there are any postcards or pictures of the work that you can take away with you for reference. Go online and look at comparison artists and pricing.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Art raises a lot of questions. That’s what it does. This can make the whole thing quite baffling for the novice investor/collector. Some years ago the esteemed Australian art academic Terry Smith suggested what he called the “Four Ways of Looking at Art”. Smith’s four simple questions asked the “what”, “how”, “when” and “why”

What can I see just by looking at this art work?

How was this art work actually made?

When was it made, and what was happening in art and broader history at that time?

Why did the artist create this work and what is its meaning to them, and to us now?

Each of these questions reveals something more of the context of an artwork, which in turn provides much of the meaning for the piece and its potential future value.

When you have found an artwork you are particularly interested in, take some time to explore the artist’s background and practice in more depth. You could do this by looking at the artists website or asking the seller to provide you with the artists statement and CV. Alongside the medium and number of works available for sale, information such as if the artist is the recipient of any public awards or if their artwork is included in any major collections is significant as it will influence the sale price and ultimately the potential future value.

If the artwork that has caught your eye is out of your budget, ask if there are any other smaller pieces or unframed works by the same artist, or in a different medium. Original prints, such as screen prints and etchings, are a great entry-level option, and can also offer the chance to buy work by a big name. When looking to buy sculpture, look at the medium, is it bronze or resin; is it a clay or a metal piece for example. Is it Limited Edition or a one off original…

If you are interested in investing in original art or starting an art collection you can contact Lesley through Aspect County Magazine or email:

PURE Award winners 2016-17

Best overall artist:



Image: Tumbling II

2D Prize winner (Joint winners):



Image: Hot Rod meet, Daytona Beach USA



Image: The State of Being

3D Prize winner:



Ceramics Prize:



Image: Seated Hare

Best Emerging Artist Bursary sponsored by Artwrite:



Image: Nimeny Pimeny

Go to to download the full 2016-17 Artist Directory

Follow us on facebook @purecontemporary and Twitter @pureartsgroup

Header image: Simone Riley

Published in Aspect County Magazine February 2017/Articulate

The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future… Theodore Roosevelt


Battle, East Sussex – The Birthplace of Modern England!

2016 is a momentous year for Battle as it marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings on the 14 October. Battle has many events planned to celebrate this historic event, including Concorde 1066, which will take place in Battle on Friday 14 October, Battle Arts & Music Festival, which will take place throughout Battle, throughout October and the prestigious PURE Autumn Art Fair, which will take place between the 22 and 30 October at the beautiful and historic PowderMills Hotel, Powdermill Lane, Battle.

Concorde 1066 | 14 October 2016

Concorde 1066, is a programme of events designed to commemorate the bloody events which took place 950 years ago on 14 October 1066 and all those who fell in this great and decisive battle between two cultures, Saxon and Norman.

Commencing at 1.00pm on Friday 14 October, the town of Battle will welcome representatives from Caen, Falaise, Bayeux and Arromanches in Normandy and from St Valery- sur- Somme that is twinned with Battle. Between 2.00pm and 5.00pm various parades and activities will take place in the town. At 6.10pm the ceremony of Lowering of the Flags at Sunset will take place in the presence of the official saluting party and trumpeters on the Abbey Gatehouse will signal the end of the performance

For further details and timings:

Battle Festival | 1 October 2016

For details of the full festival calendar which includes music, visual arts, theatre & dance, literary, history & Heritage, Film, Demonstrations and workshops please visit the website:

Battle Heritage Trails

Battle Heritage trails project is a 950th anniversary community commemorative project, supported by Geotourist and managed on behalf of Battle Town Council by a dedicated team. Residents, local business and visitors are encouraged to share their experiences, photos and reminiscences of historic battle past and present with the team via the facebook page @battleheritagewalkingtours.

PURE Autumn Art Fair | 22 – 30 October 2016

The prestigious PURE Autumn Art Fair returns to the beautiful and historic PowderMills Hotel, Battle, East Sussex this October for it’s 7th edition. Delivered in conjunction with Battle Arts & Music Festival, this eagerly anticipated curated exhibition forms part of the Battle 1066 950th Anniversary celebrations.

The PowderMills is a stunning privately owned 18th Century listed Country House nestling in 150 acres of beautiful parklands, woods and large lakes, situated just outside the historic town of Battle, adjoining the famous Battlefield of 1066.


The PURE Autumn Art Fair is a selected art fair showcasing the brightest upcoming and more established talent. Curated by Lesley Samms, it features work by some fifty artists working across all fine art media including painting, drawing, printmaking, digital art, photography, sculpture, ceramics and glass.

Exhibitors include well-known local artists such as Kate Penoyre, Louisa Crispin and Mary Beaney; Simone Riley and Julian Sutherland-Beatson, both of whom have recently produced work in response to Glyndebourne Opera House; Celia Allen, ex-head of ceramics at St. Leonards, Mayfield and Jane Bridger, best know for her glazed and Raku-fired wheel thrown pottery and Antonella Cuisimano, who is an Italian-born artist based in Belgium, whose art practice is based on drawing, space and movement. Also exhibiting in this historic year will be Jacqueline Devereux PSGFA, selector and President of the Society of Graphic Fine Art (the drawing society) alongside several notable SGFA members including Vincent Matthews, Felicity Flutter, Melvyn Evans and Les Williams.

For this Battle 1066 950th Anniversary Edition PURE will be placing a key focus on the “historic, natural and the made by hand” with a range of talks, events and special exhibits.

“Art without awareness of nature is a rather impossible task (…). That’s why in all my actions I try to raise awareness of man’s creative possibilities, the only ones that can give him freedom. I try to connect him on the bottom towards the earth, nature and the beasts, which have an important place in my actions, and upwards, with the spirits. “

Joseph Beuys

Ali Rabjohns will be exhibiting her ‘Between The Worlds’ Nuno Felted Coat, which was made using silk georgette as a base, with Merino, Wensleydale and mixed Angelina fibres carded together and nuno felted to give textural effects. Fellow artist Sandra Ventris also helped with the construction design and tailoring of the coat.

Felt making is the most ancient form of textiles, predating weaving. Felted pieces in Europe have been discovered originating from the Bronze Age in 5AD. The most wonderful thing about felting is that the craft can meet you at whatever artistic level you are. Whether a beginner, or a crafts person, or a textiles artist – the development of different felting techniques ranging from Nuno felting to three-dimensional techniques has something to offer everybody.


Photograph by Ruthie Martin – model Holly Rabjohns.

For full details of talks, events and workshops please see the printed Battle festival guide and websites.

PURE Autumn Art Fair

PowderMills Hotel, Powdermill Lane, Battle TN33 0SP

Open everyday 11am to 6pm

Late night Friday, open until 8pm.

Published in Aspect County Magazine October 2016/Articulate


Good Seasons Start with Good Beginnings…

As the days draw in and our thoughts turn to Christmas, we talk to a few gallery owners about why they do what they do and what has inspired and motivated them.

Artichoke Gallery Ticehurst


On the eastern edge of Sussex, surrounded by beautiful countryside, Artichoke Gallery is in the heart of Ticehurst, a Wealden village with an eclectic selection of small creative businesses. In addition to featuring the work of artist/owners Vicki Atkinson, Liz Moys and Louisa Crispin, there are quarterly exhibitions of painting, sculpture, ceramics and jewellery from some of the leading artists and makers in the country.

Opening just over 2 years ago in October 2014, Artichoke drew on the experience of Sculptor Vicki Atkinson who ran a Gallery from her home for several years. “It was important to be able to continue to develop my own artist practice so when the old post office premises became available in Ticehurst I looked for a partnership to help in the day to day activities and we haven’t looked back. There is an enormous amount of work involved in selecting new artists every three months to provide an exciting and cohesive exhibition, but what I hadn’t expected was the benefits this would bring to my own work.”

Whilst the Gallery is keen to support local artists, they like to bring new ideas to the area and considerable time is spent sourcing from across the country by visiting Art Fairs and Craft Shows, talking to artists and makers, developing an understanding of their dreams and more particularly their humour. Artists and makers are very generous with their knowledge and these connections have developed into firm friendships. The ladies are continually amazed at how far their reputation has spread already with visitors making special trips from London and throughout the South East. “We are on a tourist route, which brings visitors from all over the world but we especially value the locals, who pop their heads around the door on a quiet rainy day just to make us smile. Our busy opening parties are a thank you for their continued support.”

The Gallery has a spacious, relaxed atmosphere to show off the contemporary delights on offer, ideal for sourcing that extra special present or simply a chance to share in the ladies’ rather quirky sense of humour. Check out the website for a taster but better still, pop in for a sensory treat.

The current exhibition “In The Landscape”, featuring work by over 60 artists and makers, continues until Christmas, with some fabulous gift ideas and plenty to make you smile.

Artichoke Gallery, Church Street, Ticehurst TN5 7AE

Tel: 01580 200905


Wing Gallery Wadhurst


WING Gallery located in the Wealden village of Wadhurst is a real hidden gem. Owned by well-known sculptor Gavin Roweth, the gallery took its maiden flight in November 2012. The first exhibition displayed a diverse range of paintings, sculpture and ceramics, created by talented local artists. Since then the gallery has gone from strength to strength, exhibiting many themed, solo and group shows, featuring national and international artists alongside the wealth of fine artists who live in the Weald. ‘I quickly discovered that it was important to provide a diverse range of art that regularly changed to encourage more customers. Busy times at the gallery can be quite a buzz, selling artists work and discussing possibilities with clients is always rewarding’. Quieter times provide Gavin with the opportunity to catch up on his own design work and plan for future shows. This year for example Gavin has added sectional dividing doors to the gallery to enable him to use some of its space as a separate studio and exhibition space.



Over the past four years WING has become part of the very fabric of the village, with the ever-changing feature window displays eagerly anticipated. Many of the gallery’s visitors comment that a few minutes inside can provide a brief pause in their chaotic lives. ‘This is an unforeseen result of opening a gallery, but hugely rewarding one.

I have found that being approachable is very important; a gallery should not be an awkward or unapproachable place for anyone to walk into. I think it is a great help that WING is an artist run business. Whether I’m working on a design drawing or a sculpture the process of what I’m doing seems to break down any awkwardness and very soon you are discussing the age of stone or the type of chisels I might use to create a piece. The gallery is also a great place for meeting existing clients; we can discuss a commission, have a coffee and at the same time I can introduce them to artists they may not have come across before’.

The current exhibition running 1st – 13th November is a solo show of artwork by ‘Emily Pennock’. This will be followed by the Christmas exhibition running 18th November – 24th December and featuring 25 local artists.

High Street, Wadhurst TN5 6AA.

Tel: 01892 783665


West End House Gallery Smarden



West End House is a contemporary gallery showing a wide range of original artworks, including paintings, prints, ceramics, jewellery, glass and textiles by regional and national artists. Open Thursday to Monday, 10am to 5pm, their aim is to make the gallery space a friendly and stimulating environment with inspiring work, at all prices.

When you first enter the gallery you will see among the many exhibits a dog biscuit bowl. No, it’s not a piece of modern art, but an indication that the gallery, nestling alongside a beautiful church and a pub, is very much a part of the village community.

If you spend a bit of time in the gallery you will see a flow of visitors (some with dogs.) One of them summed it up perfectly saying “the gallery makes all the difference to the village. It’s friendly, lively and very much part of our community.”

The two ladies who run West End House, Patricia Hawkins and Karen Papworth, make an effort to ensure that no-one feels intimidated about entering the gallery and when it comes to selling artworks their policy is never to give anyone the hard sell. They make sure the work they show is varied, with prices ranging from £5 up to several thousand.

Their venture came about when Patricia, who exhibited her glassworks in the gallery was told by the women running it that they intended giving it up and did she know anyone who might like to take it on. She mentioned this to fellow artist Karen, who had already started looking into running a gallery. They talked it over and decided to take the risk together and raided their savings accounts in order to take the business over from the founder of the gallery, Joel Arnstein.

They took over in February 2011 and say they have never regretted the decision. After a good first year the business has continued to flourish, although they admit you will never make a fortune running a gallery. They say it’s not about the money, it’s about the inspiration they get from the work, the excitement of selling work for so many artists and the pleasure they get when someone finds the perfect piece for their home. “We believe we’ve found and created something quite special and it’s a lot of fun to do. There has never been a day when we didn’t want to come to work.”

One look at the visitors book sums up their philosophy with comments such as “very pleasant ambience, great artwork, cheerful folk”, “we have just completed a gallery trail and we can highly recommend this fantastic gallery”, “excellent, inspiring, I could go broke”; and one visitor from Shropshire wrote “an excellent break in our journey. We only came in for a look around and found it too tempting.”

West End House Gallery, Water Lane, Smarden, Kent, TN27 8QB

Tel : 01233 770261

Email :

Published in Aspect County Magazine – November 2016/Articulate

Art is not always about pretty things. It’s about who we are, what happened to us and how our lives are affected… Elizabeth Broun

– Capitalism Works for Me! by Steve Lambert –

With the on going conflict in the Middle East, seismic impact of the recent Brexit vote here in the UK and the bitter and divisive discourse surrounding the recent presidential elections, which ultimately led to billionaire business man Donald Trump being elected 45th President of the United States, we are currently living through a period of intense political and economic turmoil. We thought therefore, for this mid-winter edition, we would make an attempt at grappling with the thorny subject of art and politics.

All art is political in that it engages society in some way, either influencing it or influenced by it. But some artists and artworks speak more directly to concerns relating to human rights, corruption, class and the distribution of wealth and/or power – not every artist is moved by beauty and love! Others do not start out with the preconceived notion of making a political statement but cause a stir none-the-less, due to their chosen genre, medium, location or timing.

If this all sounds confusing, that’s because it is. But that reflects the culturally dynamic times we live in! So where to start…? Banksy’s Dismaland, Damien Hirst’s ‘Natural History’ series depicting animals (various) in formaldehyde or Ai Weiwei’s sublime porcelain Sunflower Seeds…

One work that particularly stands out for me at this moment in time is ” Capitalism Works for Me!,” by Steve Lambert.


Created in 2011, the title of the work, Capitalism Works for Me!, isn’t cryptic at first glance. In fact it seems quite direct. The piece is constructed of a huge LED sign blaring the words of its title flanked by scoreboards that register “True” or “False” responses from audience members. The power of the artwork however does not lie in the physical piece itself but in the audience responses. It is a conversation starter: The audience are asked to describe “what capitalism means for them”. This can prove highly provocative; “it’s a bit like walking up to a complete stranger and asking them “Can I talk to you about Jesus?” The word “capitalism” is a red flag. And for good reason—pretty soon either some dude is talking your ear off about “The System” or aggressively confronting you about taxes.”

First launched on Kickstarter, Lambert has toured Capitalism Works for Me! to over 20 cities in Europe and North America since 2011, including a spot in Times Square, NYC in 2013. It debuted in London in 2015 and its most recent outing has been in Texas, USA.

To can watch a selection of people’s responses:

To read more about this project:

Another stand out political work of our time has to be the Royal Moscow Cathedral Performance by Pussy Riot. The Russian feminist protest group formed in 2011, made headlines around the world in 2012 after their 40 second performance in Moscow’s Christ the Saviour Cathedral explicitly exposed their derision towards the relationship between Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime and the Russian Orthodox Church. The group’s actions were stopped by church security officials and on March 3, 2012, two of the group members, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, were arrested and charged with hooliganism. A third member, Yekaterina Samutsevich was arrested on March 16. On August 17, 2012, the three members were convicted of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred” and each was sentenced to two years’ imprisonment, however, on October 10, following an appeal, Samutsevich was freed on probation and her sentence suspended. The sentences of the other two women were upheld.

Ðîññèÿ. Ìîñêâà. 21 ôåâðàëÿ. Ó÷àñòíèöû ôåìèíèñòñêîé ïàíê-ãðóïïû Pussy Riot âî âðåìÿ íåëåãàëüíîãî âûñòóïëåíèÿ â Õðàìå Õðèñòà Ñïàñèòåëÿ. Ôîòî ÈÒÀÐ-ÒÀÑÑ/ Ìèòÿ Àëåøêîâñêèé

The trial and sentence attracted considerable criticism especially from the West and human rights groups including Amnesty International, which designated the women as prisoners of conscience, subsequently adopted the case. Having served 21 months, Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina were released on December 23, 2013. In February 2014, a statement was made anonymously on behalf of some Pussy Riot members stating that both Alyokhina and Tolokonnikova were no longer members. However, both were among the group that performed as Pussy Riot during the Winter Olympics in Sochi and Tolokonnikova played the role of Chaika in their 2016 protest song/video “Prison is a weapon”.

Dismaland “Bemusement Park!” – Weston-super-Mare by Banksy


Dismaland was a temporary art project, organised by street artist Banksy in the seaside resort town of Weston-super-Mare, Somerset. Prepared in secret, the disused lido ‘Tropicana’ was turned into “a theme park not suitable for children!” Dismaland opened during the weekend of 21 August 2015 and closed permanently on 27 September 2015, 36 days later.

Dismaland bore all the hallmarks of a Banksy, from its themes of apocalypse, anti-consumerism, and pointed social critiques on celebrity culture, immigration, and law enforcement to the secrecy surrounding its installation, opening and subsequent abrupt closure.


The exhibit had a mixed reception from critics. Jonathan Jones of the Guardian found it depressing: “brings together a lot of bad art by the seaside.” Where as Dan Brooks in The New York Times was critical of the easy sarcasm. The public however loved it, with many prepared to queue for hours each day for one of the 500 daily walk-in tickets. It also brought in 150,000 visitors from around the world, boosting the local economy of Weston-super-Mare by some £20m.

To view the trailer for this project:

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living, 1991 by Damien Hirst


‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ has become embedded in popular culture as one of the most iconic images of contemporary art. Conceived by Hirst in 1989 whilst at studying at Goldsmiths, the ‘Natural History’ series work consists of a thirteen-foot tiger shark preserved in a tank of formaldehyde, weighing a total of 23 tons. The shark is contained within a steel and glass vitrine three times longer than high and divided into three cubes.

According to the artist, the title was, “just a statement that I had used to describe the idea of death to myself”. Thought of prior to the sculpture, it was taken from Hirst’s student thesis on Hyper reality and the work of Robert Longo and Umberto Eco. Hirst recalls liking the title’s poetic clumsiness because of the way it expressed, “something that wasn’t there, or was there”.

Subsequent ‘Natural History’ works have included; Mother and Child (Divided), depicting a cow and calf bisected and preserved in four tanks of formaldehyde and Philip (The Twelve Disciples), a bulls head in formaldehyde. Mother and Child (Divided) is a key early work, first exhibited as part of the ‘Aperto 93’ Venice Biennale exhibition. It subsequently formed the focal piece for the 1995 Turner Prize won by Hirst.

Damien Hirst will return to Venice in 2017 with his latest project, which has been 10 years in the making. It will be exhibited across both Pinault collection Venice museums; Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, highlighting the longstanding relationship shared by the artist and the Pinault Collection.

To read more about Damien Hirst:

 Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei


Exhibited in the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern 2010-2011, Ai Weiwei’s Sunflower Seeds installation was made up of millions of small works, each apparently identical, but actually unique. However realistic they may have seemed, the life-sized sunflower seed husks were in fact intricately hand-crafted in porcelain.

Each seed had been individually sculpted and painted by specialists working in small-scale workshops in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. Far from being industrially produced, they were the effort of hundreds of skilled hands. Poured into the interior of the Turbine Hall’s vast industrial space, the 100 million seeds formed a seemingly infinite landscape.

Sunflower Seeds invited us to look more closely at the ‘Made in China’ phenomenon and the geo-politics of cultural and economic exchange today, posing challenging questions such as: What does it mean to be an individual in today’s society? Are we insignificant or powerless unless we act together? What do our increasing desires, materialism and number mean for society, the environment and the future…? Questions which have proved a recurring theme through out his work; reflecting Ai Weiwei’s own lived experience as a child refugee, family in exile and political detainment.

Ai Weiwei’s latest work is currently showing simultaneously across four gallery spaces in New York: “Roots and Branches” can be viewed at Mary Boone and Lisson Gallery; “The Laundromat” displaying clothing left behind after the forced evacuation of the Idomeni refugee camp, on the border of Greece and Macedonia is on show at the Deitch Projects in SoHo.

To read more about Ai Weiwei’s sunflower seed project and see images:

Closer to home a contemporary artist with a strong political message running throughout her art practice is Russian-born Svetlana K-Lie. From photography to sculpture she juxtaposes memories of her childhood growing up in the former Soviet Union in stark contrast to contemporary western culture. Significant works include The Last Supper, Sleeping Beauty and Pigs.


Born in Moscow, Svetlana was originally set on a path to become an Olympic gymnast, however, everything changed for her at the age of 10 when a rubber landed on her head! This chance encounter led her to discover an artist’s studio, which so enchanted her it changed the direction of her life forever. Svetlana now lives in Brighton, but, spends much of her time travelling the globe in pursuit of her art.

Talking about her personal motivation, Svetlana says “I do not consider this life the only one. Naturally, there is always a beginning and an end to everything but in the global sense of the word it is an ‘eternal’ process; the experience of reincarnations, of universal births and deaths.”

Svetlana was shortlisted for the prestigious Threadneedle prize in 2011 and in 2012 undertook an art residency at La Cite Internationale des Arts, Paris, France.


To read more on Svetlana K-Lie please visit her website:

Top 5 Exhibitions to visit in London in December

Royal Academy, Piccadilly

Abstract Impressionism until 2 January 2017

Tate Modern, Turbine Hall, Bankside

Hyundi Commission: Philippe Parreno: Anywhen until 2 April 2017

The National Portrait Gallery, St. Martins Place

Picasso Portraits until 5 February 2017

Halcyon Gallery, New Bond Street

Bob Dylan 5 Nov – 11 Dec 2016

Rebecca Hossack, Conway Street

Alasdair Wallace: Ache the Good Ache 1 – 23 December 2016

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December 2016/Articulate

Five significant exhibitions to visit in 2017

The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, Glasgow

Alphonse Mucha – In Quest of Beauty


8 October 2016 – 19 February 2017

This exhibition explores the work and legacy of Czech painter and decorative artist Alphonse Mucha (1860–1939), through his stylish and beautiful theatrical and advertising posters. The exhibition examines how ‘le style Mucha’ evolved and became synonymous with the international Art Nouveau style. It also examines the often-hidden, skilled draughtsmanship behind Mucha’s internationally recognisable designs, and explores how his artistic philosophy influenced his later career.

National Gallery, London

Australia’s Impressionists


7 December 2016 – 26 March 2017

Showcasing four innovative Australian Impressionist artists, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder, and John Russell, this exhibition explores Impressionism in an Australian context – closely related to yet entirely distinct from its European counterparts.

The Royal Academy of Arts, London

America after the Fall: Painting in the 1930s


25 February – 4 June 2017

The art of 1930s America tells the story of a nation in flux. Artists responded to rapid social change and economic anxiety with some of the 20th century’s most powerful art – brought together now for this once-in-a-generation show.

These 45 truly iconic works paint an electrifying portrait of this transformative period. These are works which are rarely seen together, by artists ranging from Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’Keeffe and Edward Hopper to Thomas Hart Benton, Philip Guston and more. Perhaps the most celebrated work of them all, Grant Wood’s iconic American Gothic (1930), has never left North American shores before.

The British Museum, London

The American Dream: Pop to the Present


9 March – 18 June 2017

The past six decades have been among the most dynamic and turbulent in US history, from JFK’s assassination, Apollo 11 and Vietnam to the AIDS crisis, racism and gender politics, culminating in the recent election of Donald Trump as 45th President.

This exhibition presents the Museum’s outstanding collection of modern and contemporary American prints for the first time. These will be shown with important works from museums and private collections around the world.

The exhibition will include works by the most celebrated American artists. From Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg to Ed Ruscha, Kara Walker and Julie Mehretu. Taking inspiration from the world around them – billboard advertising, global politics, Hollywood and household objects – these American artists created highly original prints to rival their paintings and sculptures.

The V&A, London

Balenciaga: Shaping Fashion


27 May 2017 – 18 Feb 2018

Born in the Basque region of Spain, Cristóbal Balenciaga (1895 – 1972) was apprenticed to a tailor from the age of 12. In 1914 he opened the House of Balenciaga in San Sebastian, where most of his clients were aristocrats. After the Spanish monarchy was deposed in the 1930s, Balenciaga moved to Paris. Here he became known for dramatic black coats and dresses, which recalled Spanish fashions of the Elizabethan age.


This retrospective exhibition will be the first exhibition dedicated to the famed Spanish designer in the UK, marking the 100th anniversary of the opening of his first fashion house and 80 years since he opened the doors of his famous Paris salon. Featuring around 100 garments and 20 hats crafted by the couturier and his followers – alongside sketches, photographs, film and fabric samples – it will examine in detail the craftsmanship and techniques that earned Balenciaga the reputation as one of the most pioneering designers of the 20th century and look at how his work impacted the future of fashion design.

Published in Aspect County Magazine – January 2017/Articulate

When in Doubt, Skate it out…



Ice skating is one of London’s favourite winter pastimes, especially in the run-up to Christmas. There are several permanent indoor ice skating rinks in London, but in winter you’ll find many more indoor and outdoor ice rinks popping up across the capital. You can get your ice skates on this winter at iconic London locations, such as the historic Hampton Court Palace, the beautiful Somerset House and the majestic Natural History Museum. Shopping destinations such WestField London and Canary Wharf also feature seasonal indoor and outdoor rinks, often accompanied by Christmas Markets and seasonal pop up eateries. Outside of London the rink in front of the iconic Brighton Pavilion is definitely worth a look, together with the rink in Calverley Grounds Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Hampton Court Palace

Until 8 January 2017


This 1,040-square-metre (11,194-square-feet) outdoor ice rink offers spectacular views of the magnificent Tudor palace where Henry VIII once lived.

Somerset House

Until 15 January 2017


Set against a stunning neoclassical façade, Skate at Somerset House in partnership with Fortnum & Mason is open all day and well into the evening, when you can skate to live DJs. You can learn to skate or perfect your skills at the weekend skate school and little ones get to enjoy their very own section of the ice where they can practise with specially-designed bear skating aids. After your session, drop by Fortnum & Mason’s pop-up shop brimming with gifts and festive goodies in Somerset House’s West Wing and warm up with wintry food and drinks in Fortnum & Mason’s Lodge. Ice skating sessions generally run between 10am and 10.15pm daily, with shorter opening times on Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, as well as extended opening hours on selected dates. The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

National History Museum

Until 8 January 2017


This spectacular 950-square-metre (10,225-square-feet) rink is nestled in front of the iconic South Kensington museum and surrounded by 76,000 glittering fairy lights. Visit the museum’s Café Bar for winter warmers and watch the skaters glide on the ice from the cafe’s balcony. Opening times vary, but most ice skating sessions run between 10am and 10pm, with extended opening hours on weekends and in the days leading up to Christmas, as well as on New Year’s Eve when the rink opens until 12.30am (late-night New Year’s Eve tickets go on sale in November). The ice rink is closed on Christmas Day.

Tower of London

Until 3 January 2017


The Tower of London ice rink returns this winter, offering day and evening ice skating sessions in the setting of the historic London landmark. Catch up with friends and family on the ice or enjoy a romantic skate under the starry sky, as hundreds of snowflakes light up the wall of the fortress after dark. Cool down after your session with a visit to the Eis Haus. Wrapped up in one of the insulated coats provided, step inside the pop-up bar and lounge, made entirely of ice and enjoy a drink in a chilled ice glass surrounded by crystal-clear ice sculptures. For something cosier, the Dip-Dunk Lodge serves up delicious winter food including fondue, baked goods and warming drinks with a view over the ice rink. Ice skating sessions run between 11am and 10pm daily, except Christmas Day.

LUMINOCITY Canary Wharf Canada Square

Until 25 February 2017


Located in the centre of Canary Wharf, LUMINOCITY @ Ice Rink Canary Wharf will brighten up Canada Square Park this winter with more than 8km of LED lights laid beneath the ice. LUMINOCITY will showcase more than 16 million different colours every session and swathe skaters in an abundance of magical light to create a truly immersive skating experience. The ice rink is also fully covered by a clear roof to guarantee skating sessions whatever the weather. Canary Wharf also offers an abundance of shopping and eating experiences. A beautiful and modern part of London, Canary Wharf’s iconic skyline is an integral part of the landscape and, with the recent addition of Crossrail Place, has become a premier shopping and leisure destination offering new restaurants, a cinema, plus one of London’s biggest roof gardens. From small boutiques to designer labels, spanning beauty, fashion, fitness and homeware, more than 120 stores span five malls together with eateries to suit all tastes, occasions and budgets.

Brighton Pavilion

Until 15 January 2017

Brighton’s Royal Pavilion rink, with the ornate Regency pleasure palace as its backdrop, is open every day, and is a great way to round off a day of Christmas shopping in the famous surrounding lanes. This year, the rink side Bar & Kitchen is serving up warming soups, mulled wine and marshmallow-topped hot chocolate.

Royal Tunbridge Wells

Until 2 January 2017


Set in the beautiful splendour of Calverley Grounds’ amphitheatre and bathed in twinkling festive lights, the Royal Tunbridge Wells ice rink is back, bigger and better than ever this year! Father Christmas will also be visiting the rink on certain days and meeting children in his cosy, warm log cabin set amongst the trees. Check the website for full details.

Published in Aspect County Magazine – December Edition