Petworth's Newlands House explores the world of Ron Arad

Petworth’s newest art gallery Newlands House is hosting Ron Arad 69, a major retrospective of the pioneering artist, architect and industrial designer’s work.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 11:00 am
Artistic director Simon de Pury

It will be the second exhibition at the gallery which opened to great acclaim on March 6 and then was forced to close by the coronavirus pandemic just a couple of weeks later.

With no knowing when it might be able to reopen, the gallery switched its attentions online until it could finally welcome visitors back in in July – when the opening Helmut Newton centenary exhibition was extended until the end of August.

Now comes the new Arad exhibition (until January 7). Visitors need to pre-book, with time slots available between 11am-7pm to allow social distancing.

Artistic director Simon de Pury said the gallery had had a great response since reopening.

“The minute the regulations allowed it, we reopened and have been booking slots for people to go in since then. There is a limit on the number of people that we can have in there at any given time, which actually makes the experience even more special.”

Simon’s point is that this is not your usual white-walled gallery, but a Georgian townhouse in the centre of the Petworth.

“And we have had really good feedback from people, really happy to be there. Luckily we were able to prolong the Newton exhibition to give it a proper period of opening, but throughout the Helmut Newton exhibition we were able to have one person who knew him talking about him.

“We had a number of people. The whole thing was an homage to him on the centenary of his birth, and even during lockdown, the exhibition was able to help put Petworth on the map.

“Now we are offering the Ron Arad exhibition.

“Ron Arad is a fascinating artist and designer and architect. He is Israeli by birth but British based, and he had a large exhibition devoted to him at the V&A in London and at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and also at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

“I have always loved his work. He is constantly pushing the envelope, exploring different ways of working with new materials. There is a very 21st-century feel to his work. I am intrigued to see how it will look in the Georgian architecture. The proof will be in the pudding!

“I do know him personally, and he is a wonderful man as well as being a great artist. He is also an extraordinary architect.

“He is multi-talented. Interestingly enough, he was a friend of Helmut Newton and his widow.

“When I went for the first time to the apartment of Helmut Newton in Monte Carlo, there was a big portrait of Ron Arad in the apartment!

“What I like about this exhibition, in the same way as with the Newton, is that it is a retrospective. It goes from his earliest works. He took the seats out of a Rover car and made them into a sofa and armchair. With that piece, he became known. That will be in the exhibition.

“We go from those works right through his career to his latest work.

“He has designed a ping-pong table which is a beautiful object but which you can actually play ping-pong on.

“I am told that he is an incredibly good ping-pong player. I am not sure that I will measure myself up to him!”

Overall, Simon is pleased with the progress the gallery has made in a difficult year: “There is a great desire to go out into the countryside and to experience art. It is very much the kind of thing that the art-loving public wants.

“The big blockbuster exhibitions can’t be happening at the moment, but people are loving this countryside setting and the Georgian townhouse we have got.”

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