The Carl Freedman Gallery in Margate has opened its doors for the first time today (May 25).
The venue, at the former Thanet Press site in Union Crescent, hosted a private viewing for its first exhibition -Billy Childish presenting Man in the Mouth of a Cave.
Since 2017 Carl Freedman, who has championed emerging British artists at the London gallery he founded in 2003, has been working towards reopening the site.
The building now includes gallery space, a base for his Counter Editions prints business and an apartment.
An artist residency and roof top sculpture project space are also planned. Gallery and Counter Editions director is Robert Diamant.
The three gallery spaces on the lower floor are vast, with plain white walls and Terrazzo flooring discovered during conversion works by G & W Gardner Building Contractors alongside Murray & Jones Electrical Contractors, Grummants (Heating & Plumbing Services) Ltd and Martello Building Consultancy.
There is a bespoke concrete staircase, purpose built for the entrance of the gallery, and upstairs houses the Counter Editions space and printing equipment, which already permeates the smell of packaging and ink.
The Billy Childish exhibition runs through the three spaces and consists of 16 oil and charcoal works by the artist/musician/writer/photographer and film-maker.
The large works are not overwhelmed by the space and feature images of swimming and wild uninhibited nature. Waterfalls, the sea, caves, trees, nudes and the artist himself are recurring motifs.
The star of the show is the Swimmer and Waterfall piece in gallery 3.
Guests at the opening included Turner Contemporary director Vicoria Pomery and the exhibition artist Billy Childish.
He told The Isle of Thanet News that he thought the gallery was an “amazing” space and revealed each piece had been done straight to the canvas with no prior sketches or planning.
Billy also said several visits to Margate are in the pipeline, a show at Theatre Royal on June 16 and a reading from his new poetry publication at the Tom Thumb Theatre in Cliftnville in August.
The Chatham-born artist is no stranger to the town. He said: “I used to come to Dreamland in the 60s, when I was a little boy. We would stay at Seasalter and always have a day at Margate and Dreamland.”
He also said he hoped to add Margate to his exhibition rota.
The Man in the Mouth of a Cave opens to the public from May 26 – August 25.