New independent gallery in Cliftonville unveils first ‘open call’ exhibition

Kristen and Emma at The Lido Stores

A new Cliftonville gallery has received more than 200 applications for its inaugural open call, attracting attention from artists nationally.

The selected 48 artists will be featured in the Lido Open 2021 exhibition at The Lido Stores in Ethelbert Terrace, running from December 1-12. There will be a private view on December 4 when judges Enzo Marra and Kristen Healy will announce the competition’s winner.

The winning artist will receive a solo show at the gallery in 2022. The private view is open to the public from 6pm – 9pm and the exhibition is open for viewing from December 1-12. All exhibited works will be available for sale.

Hera at the Lido Stores, is co-run by Kristen Healy and Emma Curtis. During the early nineties the site was an off licence and grocery store run by Kristen’s father. At this time the Lido complex still played music throughout the summer and coaches from London and Scotland regularly arrived with happy holiday makers.

With the arrival of cheap overseas flights the area soon experienced an extended period of decline and neglect. The shop lay empty for years until Healy and Curtis, old school friends, took on the project of transforming the space into a curated gallery and gift shop.

The Lido Stores gallery is a 10x12ft space attached to the main gallery shop. It is dedicated to showcasing contemporary art and is the latest addition to the Hera project.

Artist Kristen said: “My father ran his local shop for many years out of this space, and really it was about a service to the community. He’d even take shopping round to people’s houses if they couldn’t get out themselves easily, and it was always a place where people would stop for a chat.

“Times have changed and so has Margate, there’s a new community blossoming here now. It felt right to use the lockdowns of 2020-21 to awaken the old shop from its slumber. Me and Emma – with some help- gave it a fresh lick of paint and a new identity and started becoming active in the local artistic community which we see as so important to revitalizing our hometown.”

The opening exhibition, Sugar Cube, was an introduction to the cube like gallery space that showcased the artists who have already been exhibiting in Hera. Roy Eastland (The Jerwood Drawing Prize, BP Portrait Award, Turner Contemporary Open), Studio Lenca (Turner Contemporary Open), Elisa Hudson, Twinkle Troughton being just four artists from that well received show.

Kristen and Emma plan to continue a programme of curated, guest curated and open call shows in the gallery. These will maintain the high standard of contemporary art from established and emerging artists, especially those in the South and South East. The gallery is also available for hire through an application procedure to maintain quality. Interested artists are invited to contact the gallery.

The first open call was held earlier this year and announced through the gallery’s social media platforms. More than 200 submissions were received from artists throughout the UK. Emma said: “We were amazed at the interest in the open call, considering we are such a new gallery. I think two things really helped us in that instance. Firstly, it was a free open call, lots of galleries expect artists to pay up-front. We didn’t want to do that. Secondly we’re lucky to have a really good network of active artists who were more than happy to share the news about the open. This is really what we want the Lido Stores to be about, creating a successful and supportive community.”

Artist and guest judge Enzo Marra -John Moores Painting Prize, Threadneedle Prize, Beep Wales, Contemporary British Painting – said: “The high quality of the entries received presented a challenge when it came to the time to whittle them down to the shortlist that we have now. Working with the other judges is always an experience I look forward to, culminating in a shortlist that presents more local and unfamiliar artists together.”

The next open call is scheduled for November 2022.

Exhibition opening times

December 1-12, Wednesday to Sunday, 11am – 5pm


  1. how original = art in thanet , no ones thought of that before . i suppose the grants are the next thing ?, theres a whole lot in thanet that needs sorting out before endlessly plugging this art nonsense !!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Realist it’s the negative attitude of people like you that if the town was painted gold you wouldn’t be happy! I’m born and raised in Thanet and not really a art
    Person but it’s great these empty spaces are being reopened and bringing people into Thanet, the small steps what you call nonsense will help to rebuild Thanet .

    • We’ve had well over a decade of Turner Contemporary and various art galleries and projects, yet Northdown Road, Margate High Street and even the much-hyped Old Town are all in far worse shape than they were 5 or 10 years ago (and you can’t blame Covid, as Birchington and Broadstairs High Streets are doing fine). So do you REALLY believe that all this will “rebuild Thanet”???

    • Well Rodger if you think the arty people are going to improve thanet take a look around.

      More food banks, less jobs or mostly low paid. High private rent and a lack of affordable housing etc.

      Yes there is an increase in people with flash cars etc but the gap between the rich and poor is getting bigger by the day.

      The art sector to me just takes my hard earn taxes and gives it to the well of. 20 million plus to the TC with no entrance charge because the rich cant afford to pay to enter the TC. I would prefer my taxes to go to the groios that need it not the middle class arty brigade.

    • Empty high streets, working people relying on food banks, Thanet Leisure Group on its knees-let’s throw some more money at another ‘art’ place so a bunch of talentless hacks can create something that looks like a child drew it & hang it on the wall & all the great & the good can stand around sipping champagne marveling at the hidden meanings.

  3. very well said , after the recent inciddent on the No 8 bus , why dont we have a golden turd award , awarded monthly to the great and the good in the local art world . i am sure old roger would jump at the photo shoot opportunity to host the awards ?

  4. Wow, such venom from you guys. I’m interested to hear what you are actively doing to help the area that is so much better than the people in this article.

      • Well you’re hardly going above and beyond there! And that’s my point, you have little right to push the blame of a failing area onto people who are trying to do a little good.

        A lot of the artists in the area have been here for 30/40 years, it’s not a new thing, it’s just become more prominent since the Turner Contemporary opened.

        With the galleries opening, we have a miserable area with some great art. Take away the galleries and we just have a miserable area.

        The Government is responsible, not the art.

        • Name

          I think people are getting fed up of ‘art’ getting a free pass. Millions of our taxes into the TC. TC doesnt even try to to stand on it’s own two feet it doesnt need to as our taxes pays for it.
          Why cant the art community pay to look at the hobby ? Motor racing, football, rugby fans etc all pay to watch their hobby.

          To me I dont see anything that the TC has done for margate but than the only people I know that have visited TC are earning 100k a year, but it’s free for him because he cant afford to pay lol.

          I have nothing against ‘art’ as long as it pays it’s own way and not rely on my taxes.

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