ALEX MACARTHUR Chapel Show Space
Last week I made a trip down to Rye in East Sussex. Rye is a Port town and very pretty with an interesting historical background and an abundance of very old buildings to keep the visitor happy and busy for many an hour.
The purpose of my visit was to catch up with Alex MacArthur at her new premises and to see how works are progressing with the new show space. For those who may not know Alex, she is a seasoned dealer of many years standing, who speaks fluent Italian and French and has been a DC member since 2011. We love having her as a member because with Alex, as you will see, you never quite know what extraordinary pieces she will buy next and is a constant source of inspiration for her clients.
Last year Alex decided to move from her then impressive Georgian home, come show space in Brighton to take on what can only be described as a challenging and brave project of renovating a 14th Century stone Chapel with annexed cottage in the middle of Rye.
Like everything Alex does, i can tell you, it is impressive, big and the space is open and theatrical in it's proportions. I didn't see it in it's original state, but heard about it and at the time couldn't understand why Alex might take on something that would daunt most people, however now I get it and I think anyone who visits, will too.
The Chapel sit's on an elevated position up a cobbled street. Fortunately for Alex she has a large garden area so she can park easily and she was telling me of some her ideas for making the outdoor space a part of the whole MacArthur experience. For now however, whilst works are still progressing and will be for some time yet, she is at last open for viewings by appointment.
The building itself has the most imporessive large and ancient front door that leads you into a hall and the main building where the lower floor showrooms are. There are several show spaces in all and I was hugely impressed to see nearly all already set out, though knowing Alex, I shouldn't have been surprised as I know how driven she is. Though how they got everything into the upper space, I don't even want to think about.
The Chapel, as you would expect, has wonderful high beamed ceilings, which I might add, all needed cleaning after years of neglect which was a task in it's own right. The windows are of course in proportion too, so high and wide letting in gorgeous amounts of light and throughout the day, the colours in the showroom change as the light moves around the buidling. As you ascend the stairs you go through an ancient old wooden slightly arched door that though not original to the building, has been there for eternity, all the while Alex has music echoing through the halls adding enormous atmosphere to the whole experience. You will enjoy coming upon the stone Gothic arched windows in the wall and which provide an incredible backdrop for her pieces.
One of my favourite things was an enormous wooden painted Cockrel sitting in the centre of a round iron gazebo. I believe originally a childs ride from a fairground, the colours are so vibrant still and you everytime I looked at him, I just smiled. There is a selection of some great mid-century seating dotted around and a bust sits in front of a stunning and very large painting of Christ, providing an additional sense of drama and in this cavernous building, and looking perfecdtly at home.
Downstairs there are some huge copper vats, some very large lions and even more of the bespoke lighting that Alex is so well known for. These hang from the ceilings in various patterns and clusters and on their long chains help to bring everything in perspective so you don't at any time feel that your in anything other then a full and welcoming space.
With a mix of statuary, furniture, lighting, art and endless quirky objects there will be much to keep your interest for hours on your visit.
Speaking to Alex she says she is now open to clients who would like to visit, but only by appointment please so that she can make sure she is available to give you as much assistance and attention as you might need.
She has plans to improve and enhance the bulding for quite some time yet, but when you see it, you will understand why Alex has taken on such a proejct, not only because it suits her style and sense of the theatrical so well, but because she has the vision to see what it might become with a lot of love and attention, which is just as well as this is a lifelong committment, but oh so very worth it.
You can view some of Alex's pieces here on the DC, and we look forward to bringing you her new website in 2016.