I live in Southampton, even if I’m in London most daylight hours. Recently, though, it’s been well worth attending to my home scene. The City Art Gallery, which has been going since 1939, has one of the best permanent collections, though also the shortest opening hours, of our regional museums. A welcome survey of Dan Holdsworth’s photographs has just opened, and the Gallery is also showing the accomplished young local artist Greg Gilbert as has the recently re-provisioned showcase of Southampton’s ‘other university’ – Solent. Gilbert is one of five artists who considered Southampton as muse, even if the catalogue self-deprecatingly quotes Laurie Lee’s 1934 complaint that he didn’t see the sea as promised, just ‘a few rusty cranes’ and ‘a muddy river which they said was Southampton Water’. Meanwhile the old university’s well-respected John Hansard Gallery, on the Highfield campus a couple of miles out, is due to close shortly and reopen more centrally in 2016 as part of an ambitious arts complex which has been in prospect for over a decade. Moreover, the experimental scene also has two spaces in former shops in the run down St Mary’s area: enterprising recent art graduates have formed the HA HA and Orb galleries. The latter currently has Malcolm Crocker’s sculpturally-constructed retro-futurist landscapes. So there’s plenty to be said for a day in Southampton. I would say ‘come and see me’ but I doubt if I’d be there…
* Liv Fontaine, a performance artist who co-runs the space, features in my current London show ‘Weight for the Showing’ (at Maddox Arts, to 13th June, since you ask, and she’s performing again 8 pm this Friday 22nd May).
Most days art critic Paul Carey-Kent spends hours on the train, traveling between his home in Southampton and his day job in London. Could he, we asked, jot down whatever came into his head?