Lewes’ celebrated Phoenix Ironworks will rise again – at least through the recorded memories, Photographs and artefacts of local people, thanks to the Lewes Phoenix project which has recently been awarded a generous grant by the Heritage Lottery Fund
The Lewes Phoenix project is the brainchild of Artemis Arts Ltd who are working with the community – from schoolchildren to elderly residents – to capture the stories and images of the former iron foundry, the site of which is at the centre of plans for a major town centre redevelopment. Volunteers and contributors are encouraged to get in touch and find out how they can take part.
The railings of St Paul’s Cathedral and girders for the piers at Brighton, Eastbourne and Hastings, many lamp posts in Sussex streets, along with oven doors and soot boxes for local homes were manufactured at the ironworks which for much of the 19th century was the largest employer in the town of Lewes.
The ‘Lewes Phoenix ‘ project will be launched by Artemis Arts during Artwave –its theme is ‘Lewes, Now & Then’. A collaboration with clubs , youth organisations, artists, dancers, musicians, writers and historians who will celebrate local creativity from 1832 to the present day.
The Foundry was established in 1832 - a time when large numbers of local people were moving from the land to towns and cities. The theme of town and country, from the early nineteenth century to the present will be echoed in a series of events, held in the old foundry buildings . These will include:
Group show by four international artists who live and work in the area focusing on Lewes and the surrounding countryside. Private View 22 August 2008 6-9pm
Julian Bell - portraits of locals and local scenes
Tom Hammick - stylish stylised mono prints
Peter Messer - eerily-lit scenes in central Lewes
Harold Mockford - landscape oils on canvas
Fat 45 Band: Sat 23rd August 7.30pm - 12 £10/£8
Opening event 23 August – linked to a 1958 photo contributed by Michael Burlock. Landport resident Michael was working in the Foundry one day in the late 50s when a photographer and male model arrived for a Brylcreem publicity shoot. This was set up in front of the blazing furnace and then the photographer later went on to take more photographs of the foundry workers themselves. Does anyone know who the photographer was and if more images exist?
Youth Week Tues 26th August – Fri 29th August
Have Fun at the Garage! What to do in the holidays.
Exciting activities for young people at the Foundry Gallery, Market Lane Garage Lewes. Art, Drama, Under 5s day, circus skills, cooking, DJing. See programme for more details.
What Lies Beneath. Friday 29 August 7.30 £6
Poetry event with Kay Walton and others
Kay Walton and Michael Parker invite you to an evening of music, storytelling and poetic musings from local performance poets, singer-songwriters and storytellers exploring the journeys we make through time and space and how we are changed by them. Using the physical, functional and spiritual transformations of The Market Lane Garage as a starting point follow us as we uncover what lies beneath.
Tracking round the Railway Land I. Sat 30 August 2pm
Walk with Chris Drury and John Parry through the Railway Land Local Nature Reserve, past to present, from the Heart of Reeds and ending at the former Uckfield signal box, which has now been restored on site.
Sonance with Dicken Marshall, Kate Mumford and Joe Mortimer. Sat 30th August 7.45pm
This unusual, yet complementary mixture of musicians (cello, guitar and bass) combine to create an original performance using looping technology. The music will reflect the stark textures of the old Foundry buildings and the exhibition, through layered symphonics.
Followed by: Bela Emerson and electric cello.
A exciting selection of new silent short films from a variety of UK film-makers, hand-picked and soundtracked live by acclaimed Brighton-based improvising electric cellist/looper/composer Bela Emerson (more details at www.cellobela.com )
Peter Messer – The Artist Talks. Sun 31st August 2pm
And doesn’t he just. This Lewes-based hyperlocal artist rarely moves outside a triangle between his studio in Paddock Road, the Lewes Arms and his house in Market Street: most of his tempera on gesso paintings examine in minute detail the everyday scenes he encounters, with an eerie, supernatural twist.
For full timetable see the Diary of Events
Artists reflect The Men of Iron and Steel
Lewes Now & Then.
Foundry Gallery Market
Julian Bell, Tom Hammick, Peter Messer and Harold Mockford
Exciting exhibition with work by four well known artists celebrating creativity in Lewes now and helping the Phoenix Ironworks to rise from the ashes. Part of Artwave 2008 and with support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the exhibition and programme of events will launch the Lewes Phoenix Project by Artemis Arts who will be working with the community to capture the stories and images of the former iron foundry and engineering company, the site of which is to form part of a major town centre redevelopment.
The important history of the Phoenix demonstrates the creativity of its designers, engineers and foundrymen in the past whilst the exhibition and associated programme of cultural events shows that young and old continue to be inspired today.
The programme begins with a focus on the fifties with the retro Brighton band ‘Fat 45s’.A photo for a Brylcreem ad taken in 1958 at the foundry shows a gorgeously muscled foundryman with perfect hair. It captures a successful and vibrant period brought to life by the recorded memories of the workers of the time . Any fifties photos of Lewes that could be added to the archive would be greatly appreciated.
Other events include dance, films, music, youth week workshops, and a clothes show with a difference. Paul Myles, an ex-apprentice at the Phoenix, talks about his experiences, Sarah Hitchings uncovers the past through interviews with workers from the site and John Parry and Chris Drury, Land artist take you on a journey around the Railway Land which connected to the Phoenix Works. The programme is shown in detail on the website www.artemis-arts.co.uk or in the local press.
Project managers and founders of Artemis Arts, Christine Hall and Wenda Bradley said:’ We are excited about the opportunity to research a vital part of Lewes’ industrial past whilst celebrating the creativity of the present. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the gallery and presenting so many artists in a wide range of events. There is something for everyone. You can find out Whats On from the website and local press’.