Bournemouth adds art to its coastal delights

by Cass Art

Bournemouth offers artistic delights as sparkling as the English Channel it nestles upon and as golden as its seven-mile stretch of sands.

This vibrant Dorset town, situated just outside the enchanting New Forest, is home to the Russell-Cotes Art Gallery & Museum, Russell-Cotes Road. The highly distinctive building houses collections of international status and mirrors the Victorian fascination with world cultures. Much of its permanent art collection reflects popular tastes in art during the Victorian era.

It hosts a variety of changing, fascinating, unusual, permanent art and sculpture exhibitions and displays with eclectic themes. Venue founders Sir Merton and Lady Annie Russell-Cotes were avid collectors and travellers, bringing back objects from around the globe, including Russia, Japan, the Middle-East, New Zealand and Hawaii.

TheGallery at Arts University Bournemouth, Wallisdown, Poole, showcases important work from contemporary artists. The gallery is currently featuring Block Party: Contemporary Craft Inspired by the Art of the Tailor, a Crafts Council touring exhibition curated by Lucy Orta until January 24. The Council invited Orta, internationally acclaimed for her individualistic visual practice blending fusing fashion, art and architecture, to choose pieces which engage with pattern-cutting on several levels. The display's three themes are storytelling, embracing the future, and motif and manipulation. It showcases new work by 16 established and emerging international and UK pattern-cutters, including Tia-Calli Borlase, Rohan Chhabra and Claudia Losi.

No overview of the town's cultural scene is complete without mention of the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival.  This year its fourth edition takes place between September 26 and October 12. The jamboree aims to put the Bournemouth arts scene firmly on the national map across a series of locations, including the Pleasure Gardens, the Pier Theatre and the beach. Last year's highlights included Tony Martin drawings, a workshop session making props for the 50 Bournemouth Maids in the Marriage of the Sea Parade, and Michael Grubb's exhibition of “light houses”. The latter offered individual sensory experiences examining how light can sculpt and define a space, each one creating an immersive environment, creating a unique world of light and colour.

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