By Amanda Knight 

Number one sign of a healthy exhibition preview: ‘ducking and diving’. Yes, the elbow-driven art of nudging and peering between heads and shoulders to get a glimpse of the paintings! So it was with the opening night of Big Yin Gallery, packed to the rafters, and a growing crowd on the vertiginous pavement outside. 

Great to see so much support for this new and proudly black-owned, artist-led gallery from artist Euan Roberts and partner Ruth Spencer. Drink in hand and lured by the relaxed appeal of the pavement crowd, I make a mental note to head back the next day to look at the work properly. Saturday afternoon, the Big Yin team are receiving a steady flow of visitors; Spencer confirms that the opening night was “everything they hoped for”.

Roberts has a relaxed presence: at ease talking about his hugely talented and dynamic roster of artists, equally
at ease for visitors to come and go, letting the work to speak for itself. This gentle persona sits in contrast with the gallery’s uncompromising concept, namely a “D.I.Y. juvenile delinquent spirit, needing to blaze one’s own trail, and to fiercely support artists from all areas of society”. The opening group exhibition, All Together Now, is as punchy as the artworks are distinctive from each other; the hang is cohesive, expertly done, plenty of space for divergent voices and hands to sit together. There is energy and serious artistic intention that is palpable, and the website ties in neatly, with artists’ bios and images from the show. 

Roberts explains how major galleries claim to support emerging talent and to show artists from diverse backgrounds (particularly in the wake of the BLM movement), but he feels much of this is lip-service and, in reality, they “do f**k all to change the culture”. Spencer picks up the thread and excitedly tells me about their plans to run children’s art workshops, building upon work they have been doing with young people on Zoom during lockdown; I eye up the pristine white gallery walls, grin, and applaud their big heart – I’m left in no doubt this will happen. Why the Big Yin Gallery? Visit the exhibition and you might also find out the name story!

All Together Now, Group Exhibition: Layla Andrews, Stephen Anthony Davids, Jo Kitchen, Luke Sothcott, Sophie Vallance Cantor, Euan Roberts at Big Yin Gallery until 17th September, 1 London Road, St Leonards


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