Cerith Wyn Evans at the De La Warr Pavilion

The De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill is one of the great Modernist buildings on the south coast.  Originally built in 1935, after a period in which it was unloved and allowed to decay it has enjoyed a renaissance since 2005 when it was refurbished and reopened as a contemporary artistic centre.

I’ve visited a few of the exhibitions there over the last several years, and it continues to astonish me that such a radical building was built is what still feels like a very conservative little town.  On one particularly amusing occasion I  even emerged from a show to be met by an elderly well spoken man, protesting at the incomprehensibility of the display inside, even speaking the immortal words ‘my wife’s watercolour class could do better than that any day of the week’, and waiting for me to agree with him.

Ever since, I’ve derived a greater enjoyment in visiting to see the art on show, as the curating rarely takes account of the ‘watercolour is better’ school of thought.

The Pavilion is the perfect place for the current installations by Cerith Wyn Evans ,who is interested in light.  I visited the website before going to Bexhill, and watched the short film by the curator; it was inspiring to hear a person so enthusiastic about the work, that seeing it he knew it had to be shown in the De La Warr.

When I saw Column (Assemblage)VIII, I understood what he meant; especially when I saw how the installation reflects the construction of the 1930s light fitting in the Pavilion stairs.  The light tubes, like the filaments in old fashioned electric heaters, come on and go off randomly.  And when they are illuminated they not only cast a bright light which reflected on the floor tiles, but also radiated intense heat.  It’s bright and it’s beautiful, but don’t get too close or it’ll burn you.

I was less entranced by the installation of illuminated words hung the length of the downstairs gallery, as generally the use of words in visual art generally passes me by.  What I thought was wonderful about the experience though was that, because of the piece, the gallery was completely open and  the whole window was unshielded, clean and bare, so that the main focus is out towards the sky and the sea, an unobstructed sightline out towards the horizon.  Even  on an overcast day it was a view to enjoy.

The piece did allow the viewer to focus on the seascape because the hanging is designed so that the only way you can read the words clearly is by looking at their reflection in the window, and, according to the gallery leaflet, they are hung at a level so that they line up with the horizon; but I think you need to be a good deal shorter than me to see that without a significant bend in your knees.

The show is on until June 10.

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2 Comments

  1. margaret

     /  May 4, 2012

    It looks stunning ! Wish I were closer and able to visit .

    Reply

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