Quentin Blake at the Jerwood Gallery, Hastings

You’ve only got a couple of weeks left to go see Quentin Blake’s Life Under Water - A Hastings Celebration at the lovely Jerwood Gallery, and if you’re in the area you really should.

I’m a huge fan of Blake’s illustrations (even though I’ve always found Roald Dahl’s books to be rather alarming) and these are extra lovely because they’ve been specially produced for Jerwood’s Festival of the Sea, and depict characters from in and around Hastings going about their everyday business, but underwater. And, as you may have noticed by now, underwater art is my favourite kind of art.

Quentin Blake - The Pirate Family

The 26 new works have been created specifically for the gallery and won’t be shown together anywhere else, as they’re all for sale and will be off to their forever homes after the exhibition. When I visited they were all sold except the brown one. Because, brown.

Another of Quentin Blake’s new works for Life Under Water

At £8 a pop to get in, it might seem a bit pricey, but there are lots of reduced rates available, and with council funding cuts you can probably expect to pay a similar fee at most small galleries and museums soon. With your ticket you get to go in and out all day if that’s how you roll, and there’s a nice cafe with a few good veggie choices and lots of lovely cake.

Quentin Blake - Ice Lollies

You get see lots of other wonderful stuff as well, including a decent permanent collection, and two exhibitions running alongside Blake: Lowry by the Sea, and Rachel Howard at Sea, an oddly fascinating representation of the human condition in which I’m sure I spotted a chunk of wallpaper from my old student accommodation.

Rachel Howard at Sea

While you’re in Hastings, popping in and out of the gallery with that all day ticket, there’s lots of other stuff to see and do right by the Jerwood Gallery, including two funiculars (one of which is the UK’s steepest, but only mildly terrifying) that will take you to a castle or a country park, and a tiny wee train that you can ride to the funfair, crazy golf, bouncy castle and swan boats. Here are some pics I took on my phone:

Hastings has all the usual seaside town stuff, including fish and chips, and seagulls that steal your fish and chips, and it’s really rather picturesque. 

Amongst all the family stuff to do, there is probably some grown up stuff to do as well, but I have kids, so I didn’t get to do any of it. Interestingly, Blake says of his exhibition that ‘it is not an exhibition for children, even though it’s one they won’t have any difficulty with’, but I assume that’s just to draw in the adults, because, like Harry Potter, even if it’s not just for kids, it most certainly is for kids as well. And really, who doesn’t like Quentin Blake?

Skip to the end:
Hastings: pretty;
Quentin Blake at the Jerwood Gallery: excellent;
both things together: a splendid day out by the sea.
Go see if you can, you’ve got til September 6th.

(Blake images copyright The Artist, via Jerwood Gallery; Howard image via Blain Southern via Jerwood Gallery; Hastings photos copyright Candy Medusa, 2015)

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