CULTURE: Can you guess the connection?

Soooo, did you get it? Well, one is an illustration of one of the best known characters from the Mr. Men series. And the second is an oil on canvas piece called Magnolia – and the same local, Kent artist, Adam Hargreaves is behind them both… (but you knew that, right?)

The Fairfax Gallery, in The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells, (and winner of the Muddy Award for Best Gallery in Kent, as it happens) is currently displaying the third solo exhibition, that includes 16 new paintings, by artist Adam Hargreaves following on from his last sell out show in 2013. The name Hargreaves is more widely associated with the Mr Men & Little Miss books. You may know that the first book Mr Tickle, is  a character inspired by 7 year Adam himself, when he asked Roger his father ‘what does a tickle look like?’, (the result, over 100 million books sold worldwide).

And you may even know that Adam Hargreaves, son of the late Roger Hargreaves, continued his father’s legacy after his death and since 1988 Adam has seamlessly written and illustrated the subsequent Mr Men books. But did you know that Adam once worked in agriculture and also studied Fine Art. The result of both influences is a collection of stunning paintings that could not me more different from his Mr Men illustrations. Take a look:

This current series of paintings depicts those small and beautiful corners of the East Sussex & Kent landscape, which will look so familiar to anyone who knows the local area. He has caputured such immense detail and light that they almost look like a photo.There’s one or two bold flower images too, which I imagine will get snapped up quickly, to make striking, statement pieces above some lucky person’s fireplace. There is nothing pretentious about his paintings – they create a real sense of calm – definitely for those with authentic tastes. Prices too, are down-to-earth (well for this kind of thing) hovering somewhere between the £3,000 – £5, 000.The gallery is not an intimidating space at all but small and relaxed, set over two floors, with the exhibition running along side other works of art. I would definitely recommend popping in the next time you are in The Pantiles enjoying an almond croissant in the Cake Shed or getting your hair coiffed in Morgan Hodges Hair.

I’ve started a new tradition whenever I’m lucky enough to have some time off to tear round the shops. In between all the ‘does my bum look big in this?’ and ‘is it too much glitter and leopard print for the school run?’ I try and take just 30 mins out to visit a gallery. It doesn’t have to be a big one and it doesn’t have to take you out of your way. If you look, there’s always one or two nobly propping up most high streets. If they’re with me, I take my kids in too. And why not? Why should art be inaccessible or only for grown ups? (Happily they haven’t knocked over any priceless sculptures to date…) It’s a decision I made a year ago, and it totally rocks – you should try it.

The Adam Hargreaves exhibition is appearing at the Fairfax Gallery, 11 – 25 March, Admission: Free Opening hours: Daily, Mon-Sat 10.00am – 5.00pm, Sun 12.00pm – 4.00pm.

Fairfax Gallery, 23 The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5TD, Tel: 01892 525525,  fairfaxgallery.com

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Kent