Are you missing out on art?

THEY are right on our doorstep in the town centre. But how many of us visit the Town Hall Galleries and are they worth it? Now in their second year and announcing a winter programme, entertainments writer JAMES MARSTON takes a closer look.

THEY are right on our doorstep in the town centre. But how many of us visit the Town Hall Galleries and are they worth it? Now in their second year and announcing a winter programme, entertainments writer JAMES MARSTON takes a closer look.

ART might not be at the top of everyone's cultural agenda, but 24,000 people have visited the Town Hall Galleries in the first year since they opened their doors.

Those who run the galleries are hoping to increase the number of visitors as they enters their second year.

Arts project officer Julia Devonshire said: “The galleries are run by Ipswich Borough Council as a facility for the whole town. They provide the opportunity to showcase young and emerging artists as well as historical works to a local audience.

“We exhibit the work of artists, both high profile and lesser known, from around the region.”

Consisting of three separate rooms, the galleries are divided with visual arts in gallery one, Suffolk Crafts Society in gallery two and a third gallery shared with the Ipswich and Colchester Museum Service.

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Julia added: “As well as the gallery space we have a resource and research area and offer artists' resources. We have an online archive of our previous exhibitions as well. Our location means a lot of people are able to see things they would not normally see.

“We have eclectic mix of exhibitions. The winter programme brings a mix of younger and more established artists. Our open exhibition, I came I saw…, offers the chance for everyone to exhibit.

“The show will display a mix of work from across the community under the brief of responding to your first impressions of Ipswich.”

Kicking off this winter's season is AA2A. The exhibition runs until September 29 and features work by four artists who are also students at Suffolk College.

Work includes video and performance, installations made from old furniture, painting and etchings.

But before I came I saw… is an exhibition of the work of Suffolk painter Adrian Ryan.

Julia said: “Familiar subjects such as still life and landscape are chiefly represented but all are tinged with some hint of contrasting abstraction that prevailed in his work.

“Adrian Ryan's work has been shown widely and exists in many collections but it has not been exhibited in Ipswich until now.”

Painter James Noble has exhibited his work at the galleries. He is also likely to enter the open exhibition.

He said: “I work with found paintings, reusing them and making them into 'assemblages'. They are often landscapes reworked into a contemporary style.”

The 27-year-old, of Regina Close, Ipswich, said the galleries are an artistic hub for the art community.

He added: “It's somewhere to discuss things, meet fellow artists and you get to see other people's work on your doorstep. It also provides us with the opportunity to sell our work.”

Arts officer Rebecca Weaver said: “There's a lot of new work here and the gallery is still developing. This is an exciting and diverse programme.”

Julia added: “We are trying to attract the largest possible audience and I am particularly excited by the community involvement.”

What do you think of the Town Hall Galleries? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Gallery 2

Until September 29

Sara Paynter: Thrown pottery - exploring the boundless possibilities that a thrown form can take.

October 2 to November 3

Rags to Riches: Children's textile exhibition, more than 350 children involved from Suffolk schools.

November 6 to 17

Far East: Textiles, ceramics, 3d designs, embroidery, jewellery, all by Lowestoft College graduates.

November 24 to December 22

Christmas Show: Gift ideas from across the county including glassware, ceramics, prints, and textiles.

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