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Phoenix Arcadia

From the ashes....

Written By Andy Gunton

Regular readers of The Stinger will probably recognise the work of St Leonards based artist Danny Pockets, even if they weren’t sure of his name, as Danny kindly let us use a painting of his to grace the cover of Issue five of the magazine.

That cover image featured The Crypt, the late lamented local music venue, whose boards were trodden by many a great band on their way to musical glory, such as Muse and Coldplay.

That painting of The Crypt was part of a wider series of artworks called ‘Houses Of The Holy’ which celebrated, mainly, lost music venues from the UK, such as Electric Ballroom, Astoria Theatre, 12 Bar Club, and even CBGB’s in New York City.

Well now Danny has a new exhibition of artworks, at least partly inspired by music once again. The exhibition is called ‘Phoenix Arcadia’ and takes place at the Lucy Bell Gallery in Norman Road, St Leonards, a regular venue for music related art and photography.
The exhibition runs from 7th May until 4th June.

Phoenix Arcadia has been timed to coincide with the recent re-opening of Hastings Pier, which threw open its gates to the public just last week, eight years after its closure.

The two main works in this show, are the "Phoenix Arcadia" paintings, made as part of The Jerwood South Coast Prize which Pockets won in 2010. That award enabled him to make these pieces, inspired by Eugenius Birch's "Peerless Pier".

A month before the show was due to open Hastings Pier caught fire. Devastated, Pockets almost called the show off, then realised, as the flames died down, that the charcoal from the debris that had washed up along the shore, could be used in his work.
Nearly all the works in the show use charcoal from the old Pier as a structural tool in the design, drawing and making of the pieces.
That painting of The Crypt is one of Danny’s artworks created using that charcoal.
With the Pier as the main focus of the exhibition, Danny Pockets has travelled along the coastline of Sussex and Kent exploring the British seaside's identity. 

He travelled the coast for 50 miles, East and West, focusing on his fascination with the architecture of leisure: the engineering of the pier, abandoned watchtowers and amusement arcades, the Chip shops, Novelty concessions and fairground rides in Brighton, Camber, Dover, Margate etc. The show will feature paintings and prints made especially for the Lucy Bell Gallery.

Phoenix Arcadia has many local musical elements within it as Danny told us, “There’s a Rock ’n’ Roll thread here as the Phoenix Arcadia paintings mention the names of bands who played on Hastings Pier, as well as The Crypt, and The Record Shop that used to be on Queens Road.”

Why not go along, have a look, and see if you can spot those local references for yourself?

The Lucy Bell Gallery can be found at 46, Norman Road in St Leonards, and is open between Tuesday and Saturday, 11am to 4pm.
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