The Dirty Old Gallery, which can be found hidden away in the nefarious backstreets of Hastings Old Town, re-opened its doors to arts-starved locals earlier this month. The Extinct Animal Show signifies a welcome return to form, for this absolute gem of an independent gallery. Artists submitting to the show were asked to donate work in homage to their favourite long lost animal, in any medium of their choice. 

PICTURE: The Dirty Old Gallery

Frustrated by the inevitable restrictions of lockdown and the rather trying task of home schooling, this artistic brief, as set by The Dirty Old Gallery, felt like a welcome diversion for  my son Joey and I. Together we discussed and researched a myriad of magnificent, but now sadly extinct marvels of the natural world. Equipped with all the necessary materials, my very own artist in residence – Joey – made two pieces for the show: a 3D model of a sabre-tooth tiger and a delightfully tactile woolly mammoth mask.

To see his work go on to be exhibited alongside established artists such as Peter Quinnell and Nathan James Page Illustration – amongst others – provided a much needed boost, amidst the ravaged landscape of the local creative community. 

The richly coloured paintings, etchings and merry cluster of dinosaur models on display, lent a celebratory tone which coincided with one’s joy at being able to once again experience such creative endeavours in person. However, on reflection the overarching theme of the show has far more sombre connotations, given the ongoing climate crisis and the very real plight of our glorious wildlife. With this in mind, The Dirty Old Gallery will be donating all money raised from the exhibition to The Bexhill & Hastings Wildlife Rescue and Sanctuary who, like so many in the charity sector, have been under immense financial pressure during the last few months of the pandemic.

This marks the second year running the gallery has put on such a show, having previously raised £1,500 pounds for The Barby Keel Animal Sanctuary, for which artists were asked to create a series of feline-inspired artworks.

Co-owner of the gallery Megan Donfrancesco Reddy explained how overwhelmed she’s been by the response to this year’s creative call-out:

“It’s just such a lovely gesture to take the time to make a piece of work and donate it to the gallery…we feel super-honoured and so grateful – to all of our artists – thank you! We really hope visitors to the The Dirty Old Gallery will enjoy the show too and feel reassured by all of the safety measures we’ve been working so hard to put in place, prior to re-opening.”

Indeed it feels that if the ongoing pandemic has highlighted anything, it’s the enduring need to come together, whilst also supporting our communities and the wider, yet indelibly fragile world around us. The Extinct Animal Show is a wonderful visual embodiment of such essential actions and is a thoughtful exploration of our existence, both past and present.

As my jubilant son Joey enthusiastically surmised, having contributed to his very first professional art exhibition “Make sure you catch this truly roar-some show today!”

The Extinct Animal Show opened on the 2nd July and is running until the
26th July 2020. Please refer to the gallery website for further details:

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