A public art exhibition which has brought the work of Sussex artist Eric Ravilious to Newhaven was celebrated with a party attended by more than 100 guests, including the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex.
The trailblazing exhibition initiated by Newhaven Enterprise Zone has gone down a storm with locals who have flocked to see the cherished Sussex artist’s work on display.
Amongst the guests were Andrew Blackman, the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex, Mike Shorer, President of Newhaven Chamber of Commerce, Joe Hill, Director CEO of the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne and even representatives from the Vietnamese Embassy, who heard about Newhaven’s success as a hub for creatives and business.
Corinne Day, programme director at Newhaven Enterprise Zone, said: “Newhaven residents have long wanted to see Ravilious’ work on display in their own town, but what people are loving about our exhibition is that it is free which has democratised access to this celebrated local artist.
“Ravilious loved Sussex and is well known for his many paintings depicting its beautiful scenery which we are so lucky to call home. Showing his paintings in the landscape he so dearly loved alongside contemporary interpretations of his work makes for a truly interactive and unique exhibition.
“We knew we wanted to stage a special exhibition at the same time as Towner Eastbourne was hosting the Turner Prize so we could raise the profile of Newhaven to a broader audience. The benefits for the town in terms of visitors, the local economy and awareness have already been significant.”
Local businesses, councillors and representatives of cultural organisations attended the event, which included an overview of Newhaven Enterprise Zone’s ambition to transform the town into a major contributor to the Sussex economy by 2030 as it builds on the port town’s reputation as a hub for creative, marine and industrial businesses.
Mike Shorer, President of the Newhaven Chamber of Commerce commented: “What a glorious event, a celebration of Ravilious and the growing artistic links in and around Newhaven. The Marine Workshops are the perfect place for art exhibitions and events.”
Guests enjoyed drinks and canapes at the historic marine workshops and an afterparty at The Sidings, with food trucks and drinks, where they played Sussex pub game Toad in the Hole, viewed one of the Ravilious installations and enjoyed music from a DJ.
Following Ravilious – Newhaven Views is open until the end of October and features giant billboards around the town showcasing the famous artist’s work together with interpretations from contemporary artists.
Day added: “We were so excited to welcome our guests to this celebration of Ravilious and to showcase what Newhaven has to offer for all businesses, from startups to established multinational companies.
“This was a wonderful opportunity to shout about our town’s successes as we build on the growing number of thriving businesses which have already had the good sense to make Newhaven their home.
“We will definitely look to stage another event like this next year, but we want it to be just as surprising and unexpected as the Ravilious exhibition. Watch this space.”
Following Ravilious – Newhaven Views was initiated by Newhaven Enterprise Zone and organised with arts group Creative Newhaven.
The free art trail features some of Eric Ravilious’ best loved images of Newhaven, with responses by contemporary artists Charlotte Prodger, Mark Titchner, Emily Allchurch, and Jo Lamb, inspired by Ravilious and the modern Newhaven landscape.
Mark Titchner said: “The Ravilious trail has been a fantastic public project to be involved in – it’s been great learning about Newhaven and its relationship to Ravilious.
“The opportunity to make a brand-new work in such an amazing public spot – which is embedded in the way people pass through the town – is unusual.
“What I love about Newhaven is its potential and the will here to make things happen. There are still spaces to develop, so for artists it presents unique opportunities.”
Each artist’s work sits alongside a Ravilious painting completing a dialogue between Newhaven’s past, present, and future and exploring Newhaven’s intersecting marine, rural, and industrial landscapes.
The trail opened on 1 August and will remain until the end of October 2023.