As textile artist Polly Meynell says: “Local isn’t parochial. Local is amazing!”
And it’s with that in mind that she is bringing together a group of Sussex artists with international reputations – all in her award-winning architect-designed eco house in Barnham. The pop-up exhibition will be on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, November 15, 16 and 17, 10am-5pm at The House at Hill Lane, 43 Hill Lane, Barnham, PO22 0BL.
Exhibiting will be Polly; oil painter Ann Gardner; furniture designer Edward Johnson; ceramicist Fanny Peppercorn and photographer Alan Frost.
The house, owned and built by Polly and her theatre director husband Joe Harmston, is situated in an acre of landscaped garden in a quiet country lane with uninterrupted views to the south. Originally a land settlement agency smallholding, the land was painstakingly nurtured from a tangle of derelict buildings and brambles into a scenic garden and a contemporary home – the perfect venue for the exhibition.
“To put these artists’ work together in a domestic setting is a step away from a gallery,” Polly says. “It’s an unusual house, very definitely, but we live here, and to put these works in a house has a very different feel to a gallery which is more austere; here you really can engage with the works and imagine them in your own home. I think this is the fourth or fifth pop-up show that we have done, and it works really on two levels. We want to be able to bring people into our house, an award-winning eco house, and also to use the house to showcase local talent. It is not just any old talent. We want to showcase people that are local but have an international reputation. We want to make Sussex really significant and bring together artists who just happen to live in Sussex and give them a local platform in addition to their international platforms.
“We do have different artists each year. It is very much about the personal dynamics. Edward Johnson has not exhibited with us before, but we have met him several times and he really understands the ethos. Fanny Peppercorn is actually a distant cousin of mine, and I came across Alan Frost in an exhibition at the Oxmarket, and I thought his works were absolutely phenomenal. He has a real something that photographers that do landscapes often don’t have. His images are really artistic. There is just somehow more depth to them, and I just don’t know how he does it!
“Ann is the only one who doesn’t live locally. She lives in the south of France, which breaks our mould a wee bit, but she grew up reasonably locally and has lots of links with Lewes. Fanny makes contemporary pots with a purpose but containing tenderness and fragility. She only works in porcelain and she doesn’t colour her work. There is a link with Alan’s work. They are very minimalist. They work is very much about form and function which goes back to the William Morris ideal of art. I think her work is very pure which gives her an edge over other people’s work.”
As for Polly’s own work, she will be showing a commission she will have completed for the new The Hospice in Weald in Mayfield – before it is delivered to the hospice: “They asked me to make a piece of public art for their main room which is a multi-purpose space. It is a five square metre embroidered cloth… and I am currently working silly hours on it!”