PAINTINGS replaced pews at the official opening of a Bognor Regis arts centre.
The 35 works by six artists adorned the walls of the Jeneses Arts Centre in the town’s former united reformed church.
The eye-catching works included those of oil on canvas and mixed media on paper. Among the artists who took part in the centre’s first exhibition was Felpham resident Jacqui Cavalier.
She had nine paintings on show. “It is absolutely phenomenal to have this facility,” she said.
“This can only be good for artists. There will be a real symbiotic relationship between the paintings being on show and events being held in the centre.
“It gives the artists a fantastic audience and it gives the people using the centre such a wonderful environment.”
Each painting sold will produce a 20 per cent commission for the operators of the arts centre, Bognor couple Barry and Jenny Jones. They bought the former church – which closed in July 2010 – last February for £300,000.
They opened the spacious building on Linden Road five months later and soon began to attract bookings.
As well as the former church, it boasts four separate halls with seating capacities of 50-100 people.
“Tonight is all about inviting people in to see the building and celebrate its new use,” said Mr Jones.
“We want them to take a look at the paintings and hope they will inspire more people to exhibit here. The more paintings we get the better.”
The centre was becoming increasingly widely known, he said.
“It is going from strength to strength. We’re getting more people interested every day.
“We’ve got 15-20 different users now. We are coping all right at the moment with them, but we will soon get to the stage where we might have to turn people away.”
Current users include dancer groups and the BigLove homeless service as well as family events. The main hall has a seating capacity of some 250 and double that for standing.
The guests at last Friday’s official opening were entertained by The Mid Jazz Sandwich quintet and included Arun District Council chairman Cllr Ann Smee and Cllr Eileen Anderson, Bognor’s town mayor.
Cllr Smee said: “This is a real asset to the town and something we should be very proud of and proud of the two people who have given it to the community to use. They are great benefactors.”
Cllr Anderson said: “I wish Barry and Jenny well for the future with this. Barry and Jenny do a really good job for the town.”