Gallery Guide: Discover the Art of the Island

Given the number of artists that make their home on the Isle of Wight we’ve pulled together a quick guide to the best places to see their work across the Island…

In the North

Kendalls Gallery in Cowes was opened by former newsreader Kenneth Kendall and is now in a large airy space on the parade in Cowes. The Gallery represents over 80 contemporary artists and holds a new show of around 100 new paintings every four to five weeks.  The purpose designed 1500 sq ft gallery shows some very large pieces and many have a sailing or maritime feel – especially during Cowes Week.

Green Buoy Arts in Cowes High Street has loads of local art and crafts packed into its compact interior. There are even home ware pieces and locally made gifts with an Isle of Wight theme.

Also in Cowes is the quirky Pelham House Gallery known as PHG, specialising in interior design whilst promoting handcrafted work of high quality from artists, designers and small artisan businesses, most of whom are based in the UK.

In the East

Island Fine Arts in Bembridge has some very exclusive and collectable works of art at its High Street location and specialises in art of the 20th and 21st century. Founded in 1997, there are four rooms in this gallery and work from several artists is often featured, with rotating exhibitions by featured artists monthly.

Quarr Abbey has an exhibition space that is hired by Island artists throughout the year, and it is opposite the library in the gatehouse to the left of the main abbey. There is also a tearoom here in the pretty walled garden.

Seaview Art Gallery is a small family run gallery towards the top of Seaview High Street and it specialises in maritime art produced by local artists.

In the West

Yarmouth Gallery, run by artist Anne Toms and her son, is another good space to find work by Island artists although there are works by those from further afield. There’s a definite coastal feeling to a lot of the art, especially Anne’s depictions of the chalk cliffs and nearby scenery. The gallery is off of the main square, up the quaint narrow High Street and has paintings, ceramics, sculptures and jewellery along with a good card selection.

Dimbola is both a museum to pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron and an exhibition space for contemporary photographers. Along with the permanent collection of JMC photographs and an exhibition telling her story and that of the building, the museum has a 1970 Pop Festival installation and a statue of Jimi Hendrix to commemorate his visit to the festival. The Victorian themed tearoom has a small garden and views down to Freshwater Bay.

In the Middle

Quay Arts in Newport is our largest gallery and venue space with the Michael West Gallery hosting a major exhibition, sometimes by an Island artist but often from those who are nationally and internationally renowned. The Rope Store here provides a smaller more intimate exhibition space and the Café Walls show a selection of art, usually by Island artists. The Quay Shop is also a good source of more arty items, especially ceramics, jewellery and quirky decorative pieces. The Anthony Minghella Theatre is a great place to catch bands, plays and other performances and the café hosts a monthly comedy night and regular acoustic evenings. A balcony opens out from the café, overlooking the river, and it makes an ideal spot for art lovers to take lunch or a snack after taking in the galleries.

And all Around

And if you don’t find what you want at any of the galleries above, then keep your eyes peeled at Island events and village halls where local artists may be exhibiting, and make sure you don’t miss the hugely popular Open Studiosthat runs over two weekends in July, where artists open their homes or studios to the public to visit and view their work. 

Jo Macaulay

9 April 2016

By Jo Macaulay in Articles