Lucianna Whittle tells us about the RAPTURE exhibition at the Regency Town House
The Regency Town House
The Rapture exhibitions and programme of talks sound fascinating. Can you tell us about the name and how artists were selected?
The name Rapture felt like a really good fit for what we are creating, because it relates to a present-moment experience that is somewhat indefinable yet expansive and exciting. We have big ambitions for creating something new and impactful for every single visitor, and the word Rapture feels direct, while also inspiring curiosity.
We selected the artists very carefully based on a heartfelt response to their work and their creative process. There are so many artists in this area but we felt it was important that we all had a big kind of ‘inside yes’ when encountering their work! On that basis, we are showing a mixture of emerging artists who haven’t been profiled in this way before, alongside some bigger names that we are thrilled to have on board.
Artist: Emily Stevens
The Artists Open Houses originated as a way of addressing gallery elitism, creating informal environments, allowing audiences to engage with art and artists in a different way. Can you tell us how Rapture builds on these concepts, but also differs in some ways?
Yes! Rapture is all about the relationship between the viewer and the artwork, and we have very carefully curated an environment where everyone feels welcome to engage with the art in whatever way they feel moved to in that moment. We will all be present to greet people, as with the warm and welcoming Artists Open House ethos, and we hope to add to the experience by offering tours, talks and performances. Each week the show will be completely re-hung and curated around one of four themes: taste, touch, sound and scent – so even the scent and sound of the gallery has been curated! Perhaps we are building on the AOH concept by offering different experiences in each room, for example by having a show-stopping hang in the main gallery, and a poet in residence courtesy of Poems by Post.
Jesse Leroy Smith
Your ethos is similar in that AOH is a community event, encouraging school and university students as well as senior residents and neuro-diverse artists – would you like to tell us how a little more about Rapture’s ethos of inclusivity?
We really believe that art is for everyone and that some of the traditional ways of presenting art are naturally exclusive to certain audiences. Even as artists, we can feel intimidated entering a gallery, so we are really keen to break down anything that inhibits people from believing art is for them. Come in and talk to us, or just quietly wander round in your own private world – there is no expectation to engage or to spend money but we are confident that we have something for everyone to enjoy. We are also excited to be hosting Phony Art Collective, students from the University of Brighton who are curating a very creative pop-up show in the gallery mid-way through the festival.
Artist: Sharon Purves
Can you tell us more about the programme of talks, what they will include and how they relate to the exhibitions/s?
We are delighted to be presenting an evening with Matthew Burrows MBE, founder of the Artist Support Pledge. This one is close to all of our hearts, because the ASP was an inspired and practical life-line to artists during the pandemic, and it continues to be a welcome income source to this day. Matthew will be in conversation with Rapture curator and artist Jesse Leroy Smith. We are also hosting events that include performance art, author talks and live music on themes as diverse as Art & Motherhood, the creative experience and ways of approaching the end of life. Please check out our listings and be sure to book ahead!
How do you see future developments for Rapture? What are your longer term aims and ambitions?
This is a question that we are holding in our hearts and minds all the time. It has been such a joyful process working together as a team with a complimentary set of desires and visions and feeling our way through, gently pulling it all together into what we now have. In June, Rapture moves to the Tremenheere Sculpture Garden and Gallery in Cornwall. As this is a live creative process, we can’t predict too far into the future but we are deeply committed to staying fresh and imaginative in our endeavours.
What are your chief hopes for this iteration of Rapture at the Regency Town House?
Our founding ideas were around three things, in no particular order:
1) To put on an art exhibition in Brighton that is a true testament to the creative life here that isn’t otherwise represented; for it to be a destination show.
2) To create a model that supports the artists involved financially, hence curator and artist Emily Stevens’ innovative idea to split our sales commission equally between all artists.
3) To pour our creativity into every aspect of making it happen, from authentic connection to each other, to deep consideration of our audiences and how to make it truly spectacular – no pressure!
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Ultimately, Rapture is a series of exhibitions and events that has been produced directly by artists as a work of art in itself that will evolve across the month. We really want to express how welcome everyone is and how excited we are to share it with you. Don’t forget to follow @rapture_live for the latest, and see you in The Regency Town House in May!