Daring to bare in Wivenhoe


EXG MAY 15 ARTS PAGE - Credit: Archant

As the most recently opened gallery in Essex, the Sentinel Gallery is set to raise a few eyebrows as it stages an exhibition of nudes. Assistant curator, Tilly Worth, reveals more to Caroline Foster

The Sentinel Gallery in Wivenhoe has been a labour of love for gallery owner Pru Green. It has taken almost five years to complete and Pru has fought many battles with planners and local residents to bring her dream to fruition as she turned a disused hall into a modernist home, studio, workshop and gallery. Now, the Sentinel Gallery and Workshops is finally open, and as its second exhibition gets underway, the third is already well into the final planning stages.

Pru, a reputable potter in her own right, was born in Sheffield. She is responsible for establishing two successful potteries — Alvingham Pottery in Lincolnshire and Gwili Pottery in Wales — before moving to Wivenhoe, where, for many years, she hosted exhibitions in her living room in Park Road.

Pru’s ethos has always been to support and help establish other local talent. Something she was able to fulfil successfully at both her previous potteries with residencies, workshops and exhibitions. However, her most recent project, The Sentinel Gallery, will showcase a much wider variety of work.

‘Pru is really excited at being able to exhibit a diverse mix of art mediums and doesn’t want to limit the gallery’s appeal,’ explains gallery assistant, Tilly Worth. ‘Many of our exhibiting artists are from Essex and East Anglia, and we are delighted to be able to include their work in some of our future planned exhibitions.’

Painter Emma Cameron and textile artist Janet Harker, together with James Dodds, a painter, carver and printmaker, are all from Wivenhoe. Sculptor Shirley Morrison also lives in North Essex and Jane Lewis resides in Suffolk. These are just a few of the talented artists Pru has hand-picked for the gallery. Excluding James, whose latest exhibition Dodds & Co (a collection of works by a number of the Dodds family) is about to open, the other artists’ work can be viewed during the Have I Got Nudes For You exhibition, which opens this month.

‘The human form is the focus of many artists’ work and their individually interpreted use of the theme is inspiring,’ explains Tilly, who studied painting and printing at Bristol University. ‘For the Have I got Nudes For You exhibition we wanted to explore the variety of interesting ways artists use nudity as a theme for their work and how they represent the different aspects of the human body.

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‘Nudes have always been a strong subject matter for artists,’ continues Tilly. ‘For some, like Emma Cameron, it’s an evocative and compelling theme running throughout her entire collection.’

The exhibition of nudes will encompass paintings, sculpture, ceramics and textiles from 12 participating artists. ‘To curate a collection of such work is very intriguing. It’s really interesting to see the different ways in which people approach this subject matter,’ concludes Tilly.

The Sentinel Gallery’s thoughtfully planned and designed interior makes the best of the space available. While Pru’s own pottery collections will be a permanent fixture in the gallery, much of the space will be given over to the line-up of exhibitions and displays planned for the rest of 2015 and well into 2016.