The Gallery

The Old Brick Workshop is home to Wellington's very own Contemporary Art Gallery

The Gallery was launched in October 2015 as venue No. 1 for Somerset Arts Weeks Festival.
It was host to 13 contemporary artists and attracted over 800 visitors to its inaugural event.

A full program of exhibitions have been hosted through 2016. Shows that were modern, thought provoking and diverse. We're looking forward to bringing artists and the community together for many more exhibitions and events in the coming year.

 

 

Upcoming Photography Exhibition

FOUND

KOBE - JAPAN

13th - 21st July 2018

Open daily 10am - 4pm

(Saturday 10am - 6pm)

Japan private view 2 tiny.jpg

A photographic project by Artist and Sculptor Stefan Jennings and Photographer Jane Kelly

Three years ago, a skip returned to a small industrial unit on a farm in Kent. Inside was plaster and builder rubbish, that night it rained.

The following morning a friend noticed something amongst the debris. It was a battered and now damp photo album. What they found inside, small black and white photographs from a life somewhere in the East, made them save the album and not knowing what to do with it passed it on to me.

The first two photographs I remember seeing hooked me in straight away. In one a young man is sitting on a large woven container, he is on a beach and wearing a full-length swim suit, his youth and happiness shine out.

In another a young woman waves back from the sea, she’s treading water and waving with one hand. This seemingly simple photograph exudes joy and confidence. She is not self-conscious and it is this sense of freedom and lack of shyness that sets these photographs apart.      

The skip came from a council estate at the edge of a small town where I once went to school, there was no record of which house it had come from and no one at the industrial unit could remember.

At first, I thought the photographs were from Singapore or Hong Kong but a sports shirt worn by a rower had the letters K.R.A.C on the chest. This turned out to be the Kobe regatta and Athletic club based in Japan. The club still exists though in a different location, it is Japan’s oldest sporting club and open to all nationalities living in the country. The photographs seem to have been taken between 1925 and 1928 or so and, apart from a few blurry images, are very well shot.  

It is the informality and joy in the photos that is my main focus but I am aware that we are between the wars here and though some individuals may have served during 1914-18 there is very little of that apparent.

However even at this time rumours of a spy, possibly Russian, circulated in Kobe. The city was a maritime gateway from the earliest days of trade with China and since Japan re opened to the world in the mid-19th century its commercial relationship with America and Europe was very important.

The sports clubs through which the ex-pat community revolved would have allowed easy access to all manner of industrial information and it would have been of international interest to absorb trade details as tension built before the second world war.

As I felt I got to know the individuals through repeated study I noticed a body language between the young woman and her Japanese friend. I wondered if this was a trait of freedom abroad or did it signify a deeper relationship. We falsely ascribe reality to photographs, they are often beautiful lies, a chemical, digital, process that shows us as we want to be seen but on occasion they catch us out and expose more than was intended.

My main enthusiasm for this album focuses on the photographer’s lightness of touch, how the sense of fun and lack of formality shines through.

I am aware I have only scratched the surface of these people’s lives and that the journey of the album from a port city in Japan to a small council estate in rural Kent currently remains a mystery.

For more details about this project please speak to Stefan Jennings  07853 915022

or email Jane Kelly at barkingdogs@btinternet.com


The gallery is now available to hire for exhibitions and events. Please contact Alison on 07989 465427 or email alison@theoldbrickworkshop.com for details.