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