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Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case

Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case features a changing programme of challenging and exciting contemporary visual art.

Four to five exhibitions a year showcase the work of local, regional and international artists - in disciplines from fine art and craft to digital media, performance art and film.

For all exhibitions, Rochester Art Gallery organises workshops and educational activities, often free, led by featured artists. Advance booking is essential as places are limited. Under 16-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult.

Exhibitions and activities

Paintings by Karl Bielik
Publications by the Liver and Lights Scriptorium
8 September – 3 December 2017

Karl Bielik is a painter. He makes paintings.Pigmental
He arrives at the studio and looks at the group of canvases he is working on and decides what his next move is. He prefers not to come with an agenda; no premeditation. His work is instinctive - an innate painted response to the incomplete canvases. He thinks in colour, shape and mark. When we stand in front of one of his works we are invited to consider them in the same way.

In a time when paintings are often considered for their narrative content or meaning Karl Bielik offers us work that resists such short cuts to seeing and invites the viewer instead to look. Slowly. The work is physical and perhaps requires a physical response.

The work is both sensitive and serious. Loose oily wounds and thick emulsions offset light glazes and dribbles. When imagery becomes too suggestive it is corrupted and broken to prevent that slip into easy identification, and the end of looking. Everything is done to encourage a longer, more contemplative engagement between artwork and viewer. Take your time with each painting, let it stir you like a kind of visual music.

Karl has recently been selected for The John Moores Painting Prize, the RA Summer Show and the Contemporary British Painting Prize. Pigmental at Rochester Art Gallery features ‘Sunday’ - the painting selected for John Moores as well as other works created specifically for this exhibition. 

Alongside Karl Bielik’s paintings we are showing a selection of handmade, editioned publications made by John Bentley of the Liver and Lights Scriptorium.  55 books in the last 34 years, each one different in concept and form from the last, they chronicle and celebrate the ordinary people and things of London and its nearabouts: their stories, traditions and lives and humbly follow in the noble tradition of the Pamphleteer, the Ranter, and the Penny Balladeer.

Meet the artists at the opening reception of ‘Pigmental’ on Thursday, 7 September 6.30 - 8.30pm, no need to book, all welcome.

Saturday 25 November
Handmade books and fanzines: a free one day workshop 10.30am–3.30pm
Working with artist publisher John Bently, participants will be given the opportunity to examine the artist's extensive personal collection of rare books from 300 years of underground publishing history; from early 18th century pamphlets to chapbooks, rants, tracts, fanzines and low budget artists books. Participants will then be encouraged to produce their own books and zines whilst contributing to the production of a collaborative publication.

To book a free place please contact the Arts Team on 01634 338319. Suitable for adults and accompanied young people age 13+.

Past exhibitions and activities

Marissa Mardon


Find all past exhibitions and activities




Arts news and events

Rochester Art Gallery promotes engagement, participation and accessibility to a wide audience.

Join our mailing list for arts news and events by contacting the Arts Development Team on

01634 338319 or arts@medway.gov.uk

Connect -  a Professional Artists' Network

Professional artists who live or work in Medway can join Connect. Contact the Arts Development Team.

Rochester Art Gallery also offers a CPD programme for professional artists that includes:

  • professional mentoring
  • artist's talks/panel discussions  
  • networking opportunities

Rochester Art Gallery and Craft Case is on the ground floor of the Medway Visitor Information Centre at

95 High Street, Rochester, Kent ME1 1LX

Opening hours

  • Monday to Saturday - 10am-5pm
  • Sunday - 10.30am-5pm
  • October to March - Closed on Sundays except during special events

Opening times may vary during bank holidays. Please check in advance.


Rochester Art Gallery is fully accessible with wheelchair access and disabled toilets.

Local history exhibitions

Exhibitions on local history can be found at the Medway Archives and Local Studies Centre and the Guildhall Museum.


Xtina Lamb