ARTIST David Shannon ended a lifetime of painting in private at the opening of the first art gallery in Bognor Regis.
Mr Shannon’s oil on canvas Destroyer Squadron was among the 62 pieces chosen for the summer show at the cloudhopper gallery.
He said: “I’ve been painting since I was 12 but I’ve never had my work seen in public before.
“I was watching someone looking at my painting just now and wondering if it had the same effect on them as it had on me when I was painting it, putting some emotion and memory into it.”
The 40 x 50cm work by Mr Shannon, 64, of Linden Road, depicts HMS Aisne in the centre of the three-strong 4th Destroyer Squadron in the Arctic Circle.
The date was the mid-60s and he was an Able Seaman on the battleship cruiser on a week’s exercises with the US Navy at the height of the Cold War.
“We were guarding the Denmark Strait against Russian submarines and monitoring them as they were monitoring us.
“I hated every minute of it and was seasick,” he said. “I wanted the painting to depict something moving and something that was cold and eerie to show the midnight sun.”
The High Street gallery was opened in the former museum at a preview evening last Friday (July 5) by town mayor Paul Wells.
He said: “This is a fantastic venue for the town. This is something we have not had in the past on a regular basis.
“It’s brought life to this end of the High Street and, hopefully, it will be a catalyst for further developments in this part of the town.”
The summer show in the gallery and creative spaces being run by not-for-profit Community Arts Bognor Regis opened to the public last Saturday. It will continue Tuesdays to Fridays, 10am-4pm, until July 20.
Its first workshop, which involved driftwood and folded paper, also took place last Saturday.
The five directors of Community Arts had some 150 pieces submitted for the show from about 100 artists.
Those selected ranged from paintings – of subjects as diverse as The Woodland at Kingley Vale by Alison Ashman to Patricia Stefanski’s Box – in a range of media.
Silverware, jewellery, cushions, textiles, bobbin lace and hand-painted silk were also on show.
Nick Hopper, one of the directors, said: “We had an incredible amount of material that was submitted. I was amazed by the kind of people who have been coming in.
“There has been a lot of interest shown in the gallery. It bodes well for the future.
“This building was falling apart when we moved in. There was no plasterwork on the walls and the whole place had to be gutted.
“We had a vision it was going to be like this. It’s been an incredible transformation to see it being realised and it’s very exciting.”
The gallery and workshop was created with help from the building’s owner, Arun District Council.
Community Arts founder and director Su Cloud said: “I’m so pleased we are up and running. I’m looking forward to all the different workshops that are going to be running until Christmas.”
The gallery’s first solo exhibition will be the first to be held by Elmer artist Rita Herbert, 73.
One of her paintings, the oil on canvas Almond Blossom (Cyprus), is in the summer show. “This is absolutely wonderful. It’s a lovely space,” she said.
“It’s good to have been part of setting it up. It’s been a lot of hard work and it will be hard work keeping it going.”