Artist and fine art printer Alexandra Drawbridge has been operating Solaris Print from a shop on Norman Road since last August, and her accompanying exhibition space has brought the town some real gems from some of our finest artists. As Solaris Print is fast becoming a hub for a thriving artistic community, HIP talks to Drawbridge about the journey so far and the exciting times ahead for the area.

The Graduate, Mario Rossi

“I had been running the business out of my living room in Bexhill before moving it here” she tells
me “with that set up it was quite difficult to grow.” We are in the office at the back of her
shop, looking out onto the sea over roof tops on a sunny afternoon. “I had a big opening in August, with an exhibition of my existing clients’ work – it was great, people were spilling
out onto the street.”

Drawbridge has been living and working as an artist in the area for fifteen years. Her practice as a digital artist began at art school and so the printing of artwork has always been an area of
keen interest to her. “For me it’s not just a matter of understanding the technical side. I understand the aesthetic side too and when I work with my clients it’s all about them and what they want. The best part of the work for me is when people are delighted with the finished print.” Being embedded in the artistic community here has also been key to getting her business off the ground. “Being part of a close network of artists has been fantastic for business – so much of what I’ve done here has come from meeting people, going to previews, talking to people, and doing shows together.”

Her clients include many international established artists. “So much of what’s worked here has been down to chance – things tend to go well, there are so many experienced artists and curators in the area.”  She continues, ‘for example, the last show here featured video artist Toby Tatum, we presented stills from his highly layered and textured work. On his way in to hang the exhibition, Toby bumped into curator  David Rhodes, who then spent a few hours helping to hang the show”

“Something really interesting is happening here,” she says, “I’m aware that my peers are doing really exciting things. I think people will look back on this time here and recognise it as an incredible place and time.”

The next exhibition will show the work of another celebrated artist, Mario Rossi. It’s a Front will present a new series of prints developed from watercolours. The series depicts shop fronts, restaurants and cafes from all over the world, all of which have been named after film titles.  A play on the watercolour travel sketch – the traditional approach the privileged classes took to recording their travels in the 18th and 19th centuries – the images shown here were all painted remotely, working from photographs taken from social media streams. “All our exhibitions have prints at their core but can include other kinds of work as well,” she tells me. “Mario will be building a whole canopy installation along one of the walls. I can’t wait to see it.”

It’s a Front, Mario Rossi opens at Solaris Print, Norman Road on 28 April

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