Just an eight minute walk from the sea and sand for which Bournemouth is famous, is GIANT Gallery. As the name suggests, it is a giant art gallery. In fact, according to the GIANT website, it is the “UK’s largest artist-run gallery space outside London.”
|Opening Times||Mon-Sat 11.00 – 5.30|
Sun 11.00 – 4.00
Walk from the Prom, through the Lower Gardens and you will find GIANT Gallery inside Bobby’s Department Store. When, in 2019, Debenhams closed down leaving this prime location deserted, it was all doom and gloom. How would the town centre cope with losing a key store? Would it become derelict and run-down? However, the store was purchased by an ethical property firm and has reopened as Bobby’s, containing a beauty hall, ice cream parlour, local makers’ market and art gallery.
Taking up the entire second floor of the building is GIANT, the brainchild of Bournemouth artist Stuart Semple. Semple decided to move from London back to his home town and set up GIANT because he felt the town was a cultural desert. There are currently two exhibitions; Life’s a Beach and The Healing Collective.
Life’s a Beach
2nd April – 26th June
Life’s a Beach, which runs until 26th June, presents the work of photographer Martin Parr. Parr’s work focuses on modern British life, and here his subject is the British seaside holidaymaker. He has been taking photographs of Brits at the seaside since the 70s, chronicling our love affair with a day at the beach.
My favourites are the lady above, who looks particularly happy to be getting her dose of Vitamin Sea. And the man below, who is determined to read his paper in peace despite the chaos going on around him. I’ve read Martin Parr’s analysis of his work and it’s deep and philosophical, so I’m sure that’s not how he’d put it. But that’s the beauty of art – we can all interpret it in our own way. So why not get down to GIANT and form your own interpretations?
The Healing Collective
19th June – 14th August
Billed as “13 contemporary artists, performers, healer and guides coming together to create an exhibition of art, space, movement, sound, and touch”, I’m not quite sure what to expect. I have been promised that I will be “welcomed by non-human friends, feel yourself gently beckoned into a sanctuary for the soul, soothed by sounds, sights and smells.” Intriguing…
The entrance to the exhibition is decked out like a waiting room, then you go inside and there’s worms. I presume these are my non human friends. In any case, isn’t it rude to eat your friends.
Then there’s a bowlful of togues. And a chalice of menstrual blood.
There’s a fun installation consisting of trays full of ceramic pieces. You are invited to rearrange the pieces on the tray and send a photo of your creation to the artist. I thought about it briefly, but I’m very clumsy and the exhibition only opened yesterday. I would hate to destroy one of the exhibits on Day 2.
So I make do with purloining some stickers from a ceramic head that vomits stickers, give the menstrual blood a wide berth and go on my way. The Healing Collective was not up my alley. I’m just glad I didn’t bring the old man to wander around the gallery loudly exclaiming; ‘call that art?’
Crossing the Line
Crossing the Line, which ran until 29 May, was curated by Joshua Read and Paul Gough from Arts University Bournemouth. It questioned where Street Art now belongs – urban alleys or white walled art galleries? It utilised examples from famous street artists such as Banksy and D*Face to discuss the monetising of public art.
I enjoyed this exhibition as street art is a passion of mine, but some of the examples were rather small. When the original is a huge, in-your-face statement, does a replica the size of a postcard have the same impact? But maybe that’s kind of the point…