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Gallery re-opening: HiveArts

Following a decision to refurbish the art space above The Hive cafe and urban farm shop on Church Street by the HiveArts Community, there have been many weeks of extremely hard work to transform the gallery. I did personally like the industrial look that the gallery formerly had, but a refresh was due. The well-attended re-opening event took place on the evening of 27th July 2023

A new stud wall has been installed, which creates extra wall space and a semi-private alcove. Instead of the brick walls, there is now white providing a better background for the artwork and increasing the feeling of light in the gallery. Window frames have also been repainted from a strangely dull green to white.

I particularly liked the use of plants, with timber planters integrated into the stairwell and a magnificent Swiss cheese plant (monstera deliciosa) in the gallery space itself. The stairwell is quite dark, so I hope that low-light plants have been selected. Is someone responsible for watering?

My contribution to this amazing project has been a bit of a filling one Saturday morning. I know I should have done more and did offer my workshop and tools, but they proved to be superfluous. My balance has gone, so climbing ladders is a bit tricky nowadays. This has been an amazing piece of project management and all were executed on a voluntary basis. Incredible really!

Ludo Fox has worked like a Trojan and made an amazing contribution to the new-look gallery. I asked how it felt now the project was complete and people were evidently enjoying it so much:

‘We’re very happy, we couldn’t have asked for a better turnout. The community’s come out to support us in full and it’s lovely to see the students from the art college’s work on the walls.’

Later I was able to speak to HiveArts founder members, Kate Yates and Dawn Mander. Kate said:

‘I’m so pleased that this has been so well received by everyone. We suffer from imposter syndrome; whatever we do as artists we have that as part of our psyche. We weren’t sure whether people would like what we’ve done or whether they’d approve, but there’s a consensus that we’ve done ok.’

Dawn concurred:

‘I think it’s wonderful! It was the intention to get to this point; I wanted this from the start, a gallery space distinct from a shop. This is not a shop, it’s a gallery. Now we have to work hard to keep it going; that will be the hard part. Exhibitions from Photo North and several others are booked, so the future is looking good. In March 2024, we’re doing a whole month starting from International Women’s Day, a series of exhibitions and talks based on women’s creativity.’

The event had started at 17:00 and after work, I’d caught the 17:08 bus; by the time I got there the place was hopping and I later found out I’d missed a ribbon cutting by former MP, Joan Humble. There was a real buzz. People were working their way upstairs to view the gallery and the works of Blackpool School of Arts students, also excellent refreshments were brought around by the wonderful Hive cafe team members. It was sufficiently crowded that it was rather difficult to stand in the right place as people were circulating to view the works and read the interpretation boards.

The work was very impressive and varied. I often wish I could buy pieces I review, but there is little display wall space in this house unless we got rid of the bookshelves, which isn’t going to happen.

Scott Morans: my art is inspired by the sea and my connection with it over the years.

 

Sara: studying commercial illustration. Dedicated to abstract art, portraits and collage. Creating ethereal landscapes full of colour.

 

Hand printed by Suzanne Pinder to grace the gallery stairwell.

Charlie T. Alston: recently graduated from Blackpool and the Fylde College with a 1st in Fine Art and Professional Practice. Uses shoes as a metaphor for the journey through life. The full work on display is a repository of six decades of the artist’s life.

The gallery monstera deliciosa supports work by Stacey Chambers, having just completed her level 3 in photography. This is part of a piece of work focusing on women in the tattoo industry.

There is much more to see and an urgent visit is recommended. The gallery will be turned over to Photo North on 4th August 2023.

I spoke to former Blackpool South MP, Gordon Marsden, to seek his views on the Hive transformation and its benefits for the community he represented for so long:

‘I think this overhaul has turned out really well and that it’s got a real buzz about it. I’ve known the HiveArts team since around 2016: they’ve done a great deal for this town. The space here is really good and it’s good to have it right in the centre of Blackpool. What we need to see is more concentration on the Hive and basically showing people how creative Blackpool is.’

All Blackpool people can get behind these sentiments. With so much going on and so many people dedicated to the arts and producing so much great material, it’s becoming close to bizarre why our town is not more recognised for the creative hub that it is.

This was a truly great evening and congratulations to all involved and of course for the sterling work done to take the gallery forward.

Glancing at my phone, I found I could just make the service 4 home and so departed somewhat abruptly to catch it.

Images: David Simper

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    I have worked in the housing and transport professions for several local authorities, specialising in policy, strategy preparation and bid writing. Having always had an interest in film, the visual arts in general, theatre, music and lterature, I thought it would be good to combine the writing experience with these interests to contribute to altBlackpool. In addition to writing, my hobbies include watercolour and pastel painting, photography, woodwork, cycling and vegetable gardening.

  • Show Comments (1)

  • fraser allibone

    Very good. Keep on.

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