The Jerwood Gallery is a contemporary art gallery on The State in Hastings’ Old Town. It opened in March 2012 and features a permanent art collection that includes works by many leading contemporary British artists including LS Lowry, Walter Sickert, Barbara Hepworth, Maggi Hambling and Prunella Clough.
There was significant public opposition to the gallery before it was constructed with many opponents stating that it would destroy the character of the local area. However, it is a fairly low-key structure that is clad with glossy black tiles that mimic the style of the nearby black timber ‘net shops’ and it is certainly a much more attractive building than the coach park that it replaced.
A dispute with the gallery’s main stakeholder, the Jerwood Foundation, means that the art museum will lose a large portion of its permanent collection by November 2019 and in July 2019 will rebrand itself as Hastings Contemporary with a greater focus on hosting a programme of temporary exhibitions.
What to see at the Jerwood Gallery
The gallery has a permanent collection that includes works by many leading British contemporary artists. The Jerwood’s permanent collection is supplemented by a programme of temporary exhibitions.
The permanent Jerwood Collection (which is rumoured to move from the gallery by the end of 2019) is comprised mostly of works by 20th-century British artists including Frank Brangwyn, Barbara Hepworth, LS Lowry, Ben Nicholson and Walter Sickert.
The Jerwood Gallery’s programme of temporary exhibitions maintains its focus on contemporary British art. Current and upcoming temporary exhibitions include:
Quentin Blake: Dedicated Readers
Quentin Blake: Dedicated Readers (until 2 June 2019) is comprised of works by Quentin Blake with a central theme of literature and reading. Sir Quentin Blake has collaborated with many authors, including Roald Dahl, and his work has featured in several exhibitions at the Jerwood Gallery.
John Carter: Sight Lines
The John Carter: Sight Lines exhibition (until 9 June 2019) focuses on the work of the Royal Academy’s John Carter with exhibits of his abstract sculpture spanning the last 50 years.
Visiting the Jerwood Gallery
The Jerwood Gallery is on Rock-A-Nore Road near The Stade in the Old Town area of Hastings. It is close to the net shops, Hastings’ unique fishermen’s storage sheds, and it is just a short walk to other points of interest in the Old Town including the Blue Reef Aquarium, the Fishermen’s Museum and the Shipwreck Museum.
Unique among major art museums, the Jerwood Gallery is not air-conditioned. Precise climate control is less of an issue with galleries focusing on contemporary art and the lack for air-conditioning means that the interior of the gallery is more closely connected with its immediate environs. Fortunately, the mild climate of the south coast means that the lack of air-conditioning is only an issue for most visitors just a couple of days each year.
The admission charge is rather high considering the size of the gallery and the fact that many free galleries offer a much more impressive permanent collection. Entry is half price with the National Art Pass and free 4pm–8pm on the first Tuesday of each month.
Webbe’s at Jerwood Gallery is the gallery’s own in-house cafe, which has a focus on seasonal ingredients including fresh locally-caught seafood. Prices are reasonable considering the standard of food and the seaside location. You can’t visit the cafe without first buying an entry ticket for the gallery but there is another branch of Webbe’s just across the road and there are plenty of pubs and fish and chips shops just a short walk away.
It is a relatively small gallery and a visit shouldn’t take much longer than an hour to so.