Creating in the community – meet Shoreham Art Gallery’s curator

Emily Jessica Turner talks to the curator of Shoreham Art Gallery, a arts space with strong links to the community

[This story was originally published in the July 2018 edition of etc magazine.]

Starting with a creative vision and evolving into a community space run by a collective of 24 local artists, Shoreham Art Gallery has become a venue for art lovers to find beautiful but affordable works.

“The gallery prides itself being a part of the community and being able to offer quality arts and crafts at affordable prices in a welcoming setting,” explains Jose Heasman, the curator of Shoreham Art Gallery. “The gallery also offers its artists an opportunity to present and sell their work at affordable prices. So often, galleries put on such large commissions that it does not leave much for the maker.”

Wild Bunch by Jose Heasman
Wild Bunch, by Jose Heasman

Whatever your preference for art may be, there is something for everyone at the Brunswick Road gallery. Works range from ceramics to paper art, from garden sculptures to felted animals, and from handbags to jewellery.

“At the gallery you will find a wonderful array of work from oil paintings, watercolours, linocuts, turned wood, to sculptures, ceramics, photography, and textiles, stained and fused glass and so much more”, says Jose, who is a stained glass artist. “It’s an ever changing exhibition. We regularly promote guest artist displaying their work on a monthly basis.

“Shoreham Art Gallery has become a well sought after gallery, having customers that travel far and wide knowing that they can buy quality arts and crafts.”

Ginger by Teresa Martin
Ginger, by Teresa Martin

The gallery today has a solid reputation as a friendly space run by a dedicated team, although it started out life as something much smaller – an idea.

Jose explains: “Shoreham Art Gallery came about through a vision of a handful of people in 2009 that were and still are, passionate about their craft and wanted to share their own experiences with other like minded people. We started in a gallery in the High Street which unfortunately shut down due to change of ownership.

“A group was then formed and a new location found in Brunswick Road. So the gallery has been alive and kicking at that same location since 2011 as a collective.”

Today, a number of artists exhibit their work at the gallery, including painter and sculptor Philip Driver, illustrator Candy Medusa, textile artist Sue Jones, and jewellery artist Georgie Major. Jose’s work is inspired by the countryside and coastline of Sussex, and some of her stained glass lamps contain more than 200 pieces of glass.

Tranquil by Wendy Standen
Tranquil, by Wendy Standen

Running the gallery is a real team effort, lead by a large community of people committed to their crafts. “Every member has a job to do in the running of the gallery, be it curator, to card monitor!” continues Jose. “There is one curator which is me, as well three other directors who head up Membership, Promotions and Housekeeping. All gallery members have a job to help keep the gallery running smoothly. Every artist pays a monthly fee and a percentage of their sales. This contributes towards the rent, insurances, utility bills and telephone/internet.

“We all are allocated two days in a six week rota, this gives our customers an opportunity to meet exhibiting artist.”

The team at Shoreham Art Gallery aim to work within the community to promote creativity for people of all ages. “We offer workshops and often have local schools visit to learn what goes on behind the scenes,” Jose says. “We hold a yearly art exhibition by Year Four children from Swiss Gardens School. Our next generation of artists!”

The gallery also offers courses and one-off workshops for those who want to develop their skills. Teresa Martin is currently hosting a six week sculpture course, and children’s needle felting workshops are available from Joanna Rawlings.

“Our dreams for the future are to survive in the harsh conditions that retail shops find themselves in competing against online shopping and offer our customers the opportunity to ‘see’ ‘touch’ and ‘smell’ the work before they buy, and even meet the artist,” says Jose.

Find out more about Shoreham Art Gallery by visiting the website at

South Downs Slawek
South Downs, by Slawek Staszczuk

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