Exhibitions & Events

'The Artist Kitty French and Friends'

1 FEBRUARY - 8 MARCH - now extended

Stormont Studio Gallery 6

Rye Art Gallery Trust is delighted to have recently received donations from Louis Turpin and Davida Smith of 2 pictures by the well-known former local artist and teacher Kitty French (1924 - 1989). (See Collection News page)

To celebrate this, we are staging a Retrospective exhibition of all the works by her that Rye Art Gallery holds in the Permanent Collection, alongside some artworks by Kitty’s contemporaries, friends and students – such as David Crew and Wally Cole.

The photo shows a textile collage called 'The Invitation' by Kitty.

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'Finding Form' - Bernard McGuigan & Yana Rits


OPENING RECEPTION Saturday 22nd February 11am – 1pm

Art critic and writer Andrew Graham-Dixon wrote “McGuigan is an outstanding sculptor in stone”. In the tradition of 20th century sculptors, such as Moore, Hepworth and Gill, Bernard uses the direct carving method. His pieces are graceful and deceptively simple in their carving style, but nonetheless have a powerful yet tranquil potency.
Dr Sally Dormer, Art historian at The Victoria and Albert Museum said “His works' abstraction and lack of specific identity render them universally accessible and appealing”.

When first coming across an exhibition of his work we delight in the thought of stone as a reliable and, in relation to our own lifespan, timeless material. This sensation may be remembered in the mind like a line from a requiem, quietly insistent. In a form of homage
to the way that stones long been used to mark boundaries and places of passage, his sculptures appear to define the limits of individual tenderness in a harsh and competitive world. Standing between artist and spectator, they mediate the ever-present challenge of being alive.

Bernard McGuigan

'Finding Form - Yana Rits & Bernard McGuigan'


OPENING RECEPTION Saturday 22nd February 11am – 1pm

In her photographic practice, cinematographer and visual artist Yana Rits employs her own body as a visual aid.
“The beauty, harmony and fragility of the human body, male or female, are undeniable, which makes it an incomparable tool for the embodiment of those creative and philosophical themes present in my work.
I use my own body to study not only concepts of time, form and space, but the whole gamut of human existence from cultural aspects such as religion, gender and racial privilege to more basic and primal ones like sexuality and age.”
Yana Rits.


'Green Havoc'

15 MARCH – 3 MAY

Stormont Studio Gallery 6 - The Permanent Collection

Local artists Denise Franklin and Sarah Palmer have linked together with the curator of Rye Art Gallery’s Permanent Collection, Julian Day, to stage an exhibition which celebrates the explosion of growth in Spring. The inspiration came from the poem “Almond Blossom “ by Fiona Benson.

Sarah and Denise have selected works from our Collection to show dynamic mark-making, intimate endeavour and a joy in nature. The artists' own practice has always led them to walk together in the landscape. By examining the works in the Collection it has challenged and energised their conversations and required them to reflect on their own practice.

Townsend Kenneth Fairlight

Reception and 'Meet the Artists' event - Green Havoc

28 MARCH, Reception 11.00 - 1.00am and Event 2.00pm

Stormont Studio

Sarah Palmer and Denise Franklin will be at the Gallery on March 28th from 11–1pm and then invite you to join them at 2pm in the Stormont Studio for a 'Meet the Artists' talk. The talk is free and will be informal with a Q & A session with the Collections curator, Julian Day.

Denise and Sarah will be on hand to talk about their work and how they have responded to some of the paintings in the Gallery's Permanent Collection and Archive.

The show comprises poetry, collage, drawing, painting on paper and linen and clay works.

Screen Shot 2020 02 28 At 11.21.38

New Work - Rye Society of Artists



Now in its 69th year the Rye Society of Artists is an inspiring showcase. The Society is made up of practising professional artists living and working within a 15 mile radius of Rye.

The Rye Society of Artists annual shows attract buyers and collectors from near and far who come to see the latest work from over forty artists who are outstanding in their particular field. All work is for sale and will include drawing, painting, collage, photography, print, clay, mixed media and glass.

This year the focus for the Spring display is NEW WORK and there will be several “Meet the Artist” sessions during the show. These slots will give the public a chance to come and meet one of the artists and hear them talk about their work and answer questions.
Please see here soon on the website for forthcoming details of these events.


'Embodied Land' - Sally Cole



Sally writes "I am a landscape painter and printmaker.
In 2019 I was privileged to be granted a month’s creative residency close to a remote beach on the spectacular west coast of New Zealand. Embodied land is a direct response to the sounds of the sea and the resulting vibrations of the land, which were with me 24 hours a day for the month I spent there, and became embodied within me.
Working on the ideas and feelings from this time I have produced paintings and prints both in the studio and working outside in Pembrokeshire where the coastline also resonates with sound.
This will be an ongoing project, which I intend to continue over time."


'Bees and Wands' - John Wiltshire

2 MAY - 30 MAY with OPENING RECEPTION & MEET THE ARTIST Saturday 2nd May 11am – 2pm 


John writes "The bees derived from working on a project for the bicentenary of Darwin’s birth with Cambridge University Museum of Zoology in 2009. We recreated his beetle collection as paper models and this necessitated looking at insects in detail. Since then they have become subjects for portraits.
We are alert to our surroundings and notice the incongruous. I tend to collect objects everywhere I go. Things usually jump out at me and become souvenirs or talismans of a place or time or person, or emotion or moment or idea. I also save ribbons and string from gifts because I enjoy concealed inspiration from loved ones.

These collections provide components for assemblages, which then become painted. Resembling ‘wands’ they began in the 1980’s in collaboration with another artist. We posted a stick back and forth attaching more and more found objects. This work is still often the donor for paintings and gets updated with new objects and reinvented.

Making paintings is a way of marking life and stopping time. It offers a resistance to our fast paced lives and imagery in which there can be resolution and stillness."

OPENING RECEPTION & MEET THE ARTIST Saturday 2nd May, 11am – 2pm

Bumble Bee 349 350 1

'Seascapes' from the Permanent Collection

9 MAY - 28 JUNE

Stormont Studio Gallery 6 - The Permanent Collection

Rye’s own rich connections with the sea, both as a Cinque Port and a fishing harbour, have been explored by major artists throughout history. It is a theme that continues to be the focus for many contemporary artists working in Rye and further afield, who present their work in the Rye Art Gallery throughout the year.

We are lucky to have a large variety of paintings and drawings in our Permanent Collection that are both historic and contemporary and are evocative of sea and sky.
Rye Art Gallery Collections curator, Julian Day, has selected over 30 works for the exhibition.

Fred Cuming2 300ppi X 12 Inch

'Painting Places' - Karl Terry & Tom Marsh

30 MAY – 27 JUNE


Karl and Tom are both dedicated and enthusiastic artists who delight in setting up their easels and immersing themselves in the landscape, from the wilds of Romney Marsh to the foaming seas of a bright, bracing day on Camber Sands and to scenes far beyond.

Their skilled brushwork, painting from direct observation, reflects a real sense of place and atmosphere.

During the show there will be an opportunity to meet Tom and Karl and watch them at work as well as demonstrations in the Gallery.
Details will appear here on the website.

Tom Marsh Romney Marsh