I've recently been stewarding, helping out and, generally, daily popping into The Artizan's Summer Open 2018 Pop-Up Gallery [presently at Unit 5, 74 Fleet Street - and there till 16th August].
The exhibition [in the old Laura Ashley shop - a fantastic space which has lain empty for years] fills the walls and floor with colour, beauty and scope for your imagination to be stimulated.
The works are magnificently hung and display an eclectic range of styles/genres and most of the artists are from the South West.
What has impressed me most, in my time at the gallery, and as a non-artist, is the range of people who have come in to look at the art. For me, they have fallen into two quite distinct groups - tourists and local people. Perhaps that's pretty obvious?
The exhibition has attracted holiday-makers from as far afield as Aberdeen, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Yorkshire, Australia, Brazil, Essex, Wales and Kenya. Many Language Students [from an array of countries] have come in to view, ask about the work or do project research set by their school in Torquay. The tourists have happily taken time out of their precious schedule to come in, not rush round and ask informative questions. Many people have come in more than once.
The people local to Torquay have touched my soul. The Artizan has made it a policy to make the exhibition 'people friendly' [something I haven't found in all exhibitions I have attended over the years, I have to say] and the Summer Open has attracted an enormous amount of local residents who have praised, not only the beautiful art, but the fact that there was a space where they could simply, without pressure, walk into, look at art, bring in their kids and dogs with them and feel welcomed.
Things local residents have said have stuck in my mind, affected me and I know will stay with me forever: THIS IS BEAUTIFUL / HOW LOVELY TO HAVE SUCH A SPACE HERE IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN / WHAT A REFRESHING CHANGE NOT TO HAVE ANOTHER COFFEE SHOP OR CHARITY SHOP. My favourite was from a young, slightly harassed woman with a child and a toddler in his buggy [ slurping on his ice-cream] who said: HOW LOVELY TO HAVE SUCH BEAUTY IN THE MIDDLE OF ALL THIS MAYHEM! I think that, for me, sums it up.
The exhibition has given me, also, space and time to re-evaluate who I am as well as something beautiful to be part of.
Ziggy Abd El Malak
[Performance Poet / Artists' Model / Private Tutor]