More than a year in the planning, the latest exhibition at Chichester’s Candida Stevens Fine Art comes from a gallery on the up and up.
Good Nature, running until October 28, Tuesday to Saturday, 10-5pm, follows on from Good Figures three years ago, the show which Candida brought to the Weald & Downland Museum and which subsequently led to calls for her to set up her own gallery. Next year will come Good Health – and Candida is already pondering the Good beyond that… all a sign of the extent to which the gallery has now established itself.
“The gallery has been here two and a half years now,” Candida says. “It’s always hard to start up one’s own business. It’s something where you have to have realistic expectations.
“We are not particularly on the high street. We are not particularly high-street product, so we have got to consider this a long-term thing. It is very much about building relationships with people, about helping people to understand and learn about art and enjoying the artists. We have worked with some excellent artists, some of them very well known in the area, some of them not very well known in the area, but known nationally, which is nice because it means that we are carrying on a dialogue with them. And the whole thing just gets better and better. We are getting to know our clients much better so that we can make recommendations to them, knowing them and their style, which is a really good relationship to have, and the artists equally we know better and better. We are exclusive representative gallery for several of our artists in the UK, and that working relationship is a huge part of how a successful gallery works.”
And so the gallery evolves: “Last year we had nine exhibitions. This coming year I am going to do less – better. I want to really, really focus on not just going from one show to the next and then the next, which as a schedule is pretty unforgiving. I want to be able to grow shows with more time in between. The preparation for Good Nature will have been at least a year.”
As for the latest show, Candida has brought together than 30 artists to make a piece of work in response to the theme: “It is about asking artists to respond… not to a brief as such because that sounds like I want to direct them, and I hate directing artists. But really to respond to an idea, much more ‘this is what we are thinking… what do you think?’ I want them to go away and make a piece in response, which is a much more fascinating way of doing it, so that they have really immersed themselves in the thought process.”
As Candida says, the idea behind the exhibition is a celebration of our planet, its beauty and its fragility and the essential part we all play in preserving it.
“I have chosen to bring together these artists to concentrate our thoughts around the planet at a moment when its beauty and fragility are deeply affected by our treatment and explorations of it. I want to see how artists and thinkers will respond to this important theme. The show is curated to be a thoughtful and probing look at us and our place in the natural environment. I hope too that it will create positive reactions from those who come to see the work and want to make changes for the long-term conservation of our world “
“Good Nature celebrates the natural world through the observations of emerging and eminent artists of our time working in the UK today who awaken our senses to the beauty of our planet.”