When the Queen’s own Deputy Lord Leftenant, Maidstone & The Weald MP Helen Grant, and Maidstone’s Deputy Mayor turn up to an event in Maidstone, you know something important is going down. And that’s what happened yesterday evening at the private viewing of Maidstone’s newest gallery Xross-PolyNation. Indian-born owner and Curator Ravinder Kalsi and her team put on a fine show launching the galleries’ Thank You Ma’am exhibition celebrating the Queen’s sixty-three years of reign.
The Deputy Lord Leftenant paid tribute to the project on behalf of Her Majesty, not only in celebration of the Queen, but also the powerful concept behind Xross-PolyNation to cut through the artificial barriers of social, geographic and cultural divides to bring together nations and communities through the creative arts.
There was also a stirring and poignant speech from Kent artist Sue Pritchard rejecting the planned dropping of creative subjects in schools through government cuts and the critical importance for young people to develop their creative potential, and the ill-effect it will have on our future society. “Without it,” she says, “we lose our cultural distinctiveness and become plain.”
Ravinder, now in her seventies, a vibrant force in the creative community and a celebrated artist herself, knows only too well the early struggles artists and other creatives have getting noticed in the UK and especially in the county’s capital town, and so she self-funded the new gallery. On two large floors, it provides ample space for the 300-hundred works of art professionally displayed, and is a relaxing delight to wander around.
The evening had a strong Nigerian presence, from highly celebrated Nigerian artists, and is part of Ravinder’s passionate goal to forge stronger links between our two countries. Nigeria is a wealthy nation and their attitude towards art is far less conservative to that of the UK, making it much easier for artists of that country to make a living and thrive on their art. Popularity in Nigerian art is in ascension and seen as a strong investment, globally.
A tour of the gallery by a popular Nigerian artist whose work sells for thousands, was a highlight of the evening, and gave a strong insight into the works on display, including a feature room filled with selected pieces from top Nigerian artists.
A toast to Her Majesty led by the Deputy Lord Leftenant completed the evening’s formalities and the evening continued for hours with informal chatting between the multicultural attendees.
The exhibition is now open to the public and is well worth a visit to see a wide range of styles. The gallery also has its regular features of international, national, Kent and Maidstone’s artists who Ravinder is especially keen to support, which surprising to most, are many and talented.
If you’re in the area, it’s well worth a visit. And if you’re looking for investment art it’s especially so. There are a couple of free parking spaces outside, and general town parking nearby if they’re occupied.
The gallery’s address is:
3-4 Starnes Court
Kent ME14 1EB
Opening hours are: daily, 10am-5pm (closed Sundays)
And you can get more information on their website at: http://www.xrosspolynation.co.uk/