Rochester Art Gallery

Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

Rochester Art Gallery and the Medway Visitor Information Centre re-opened on Tuesday 7 July.

Our opening hours are: Tuesday to Saturday - 10am to 5pm

From Saturday 8 August, you must wear a face covering in this venue. Find out more about face coverings.

When visiting our buildings please follow social distancing guidance.

More coronavirus (COVID-19) updates

Changes to the gallery and visitor centre

We've made some changes to the gallery and visitor centre. This is to welcome you back safely.

  • we'll ask all visitors to provide test and trace contact details when entering the building
  • we no longer have a visitors book, you can leave a comment about the exhibition on our social media @rochesterartgallery or by emailing 
  • a maximum of 8 people is allowed in the gallery at any one time
  • the visitor centre toilets are closed to the public. The toilets at Northgate is a few minutes walk away
  • rear access to the building via Corporation Street is closed
  • the cafe is closed
  • the cash machine (ATM) is currently out of service 
  • hand sanitisers are available by the gallery entrance
  • you can request exhibition leaflets and large print exhibition guides from the visitor centre front desk team
  • artworks are available for sale as usual
  • admission to the gallery is still free
  • The Huguenot Museum upstairs should re-open early August

About Rochester Art Gallery

Rochester Art Gallery features a changing programme of exciting contemporary visual art.

We hold four exhibitions every year which showcase the work of local, regional and international artists.

The gallery has a varied programme which includes curated exhibitions of fine and decorative arts. Recent shows have included textiles, craft, printmaking and painting.

It is free to visit the gallery but you may need to buy tickets for some workshops. Find us on Facebook or Instagram.

Join our e-mailing list for details of exhibition previews, workshops and special events, just click the art gallery option on the list.

Visit Rochester Art Gallery

You can find the gallery in the Medway Visitor Information Centre.

Address: 95 High Street, Rochester, Kent, ME1 1LX

Opening hours

Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm

Current exhibitions

Echoes - Experiments by Zara Carpenter

Date: Ending soon - last day Saturday 1 August 2020

For the last two years Zara Carpenter has been examining her experience of past trauma and how its echoes have come to manifest themselves as physical pain. 

Zara takes photographs of her body using analogue cameras. She then experiments using different materials and techniques to disrupt the image and its chemistry, damaging the emulsion to create abstractions. Only ghosts remain of what would have been.

The experimental, destructive process is initiated by hand, yet the results are beyond human control. By submitting to chaos Zara becomes free from constraints. By harnessing mistakes she has found a place where control and chance collide. 

Images of her body metamorphose into landscapes, coastlines, weather fronts, fossils dug from the earth, or distant nebulae. Photo by Zara Carpenter

The act of creating these images has allowed Zara to process and understand her past, to sit with it, bring it to the surface and exorcise it from her into the images she makes. An act of catharsis. An act of healing. 

Zara Carpenter is a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist. In 2017 Zara co-founded the ACE-funded arts project SICK! Living With Invisible Illness

To accompany the exhibition, essays have been written by online curator and writer Stephen Ellcock and Dr Nick Fallon, a neuroscientist, pain researcher and lecturer at the University of Liverpool. These will be available on our website and to pick up in the gallery. 

The work in this exhibition has been created with the support of Arts Council England, Developing Your Creative Practice Grant. 

Installation of the large wall piece was kindly supported by Westbury Signs.

Upcoming exhibitions

We are delighted to share our re-scheduled 2020/21 exhibition programme

'Explore & Draw - Art in Lockdown'

Date: 15 August to 26 Sept 2020

Explore & Draw is an art group established in 2017 to encourage people to connect to their inner creative. It is open to anyone who wants to draw from still life compositions, from complete beginners to experienced artists, all are welcome.

The proud founder of E&D, Chatham based artist Luna Zsigo collaborates with heritage sites, small businesses and other intriguing spaces to create unique and exciting events across Medway.

This special exhibition will be sharing a selection of members work created in 2020 including many pieces made during lockdown via their online classes. The show promises to be a celebration of the power of creativity to excite, unite and inspire.

The winning cover linocut design by Neil Mattingly for Explore and Draw. It includes the words explore and draw on the image.

Deadline to submit works is 2 August. Visit @exploreanddrawmedway or email to find out more.

The Last Dream of My Soul – Dickens 150 Print Open Call Exhibition

Date: 5 December 2020 to 20 March 2021

This much awaited exhibition of 100 original prints created especially for the Dickens 150 Open Call competition will include work by 47 artists inspired by Dickens life and work, his special affinity with Medway and his last unfinished novel ‘The Mystery of Edwin Drood’. It will also include costume and funerary objects kindly loaned from the Guildhall Museum collection and a commemorative book.


More about The Last Dream of My Soul exhibition

Winning Mystery of Edwin Drood book cover



The winning Mystery of Edwin Drood cover linocut print by Neil Mattingly.

'Unknown Soldier' works by David Tovey 

Date: 9 July to 25 Sept 2021

David Tovey is a formerly homeless artist, educator, activist and ex-soldier.

This exhibition explores the deep-rooted questions of why life falls apart for so many ex-soldiers, leading to mental health problems, homelessness, and for some suicide. Raw, uncompromising, and sometimes brutal, the show has been 29 years in the making and poses deep questions, highlighting the struggles that people face when they leave the armed forces.

The show will include paintings, photographs, memorabilia, film and performance that documents David’s journey. At the heart of his practice is a very special quality; the ability to bring you to the subject in ways both beautiful and hard-hitting, in order to raise awareness about the social issues he tackles. 

David speaks regularly at housing and homelessness events and has exhibited widely including at the ASTA Festival in Montreal, Tate Modern, and Tate Liverpool. He is the founder of the UK’s ‘One Festival of Homeless Arts’. 

David Tovey artwork 'Raven'. Painting of a raven with the words Silence Death stenciled across it in red

David Tovey - Raven

All that Remains: Thirty Years in the Making by Neil Bottle

Date: 9 October 2021 to 1 January 2022

This new body of work, first shown at Contemporary Applied arts and the Ruthin Craft Centre celebrates Neil’s 30 years as a textile designer.

Neil’s fascinating textile hangings are inspired by family photographs, a sense of time passing and how we remember things – in both real and false memories.

The textile prints are accompanied by personal, sentimental objects that were the starting point for many of the stories Neil is telling.

More about the All that Remains exhibition

All that remains Neil bottle

Past exhibitions

Our past exhibitions have included:

  • Bizarre and Curious Silks: Hannah Robson's textiles exhibition challenged the limits imposed by the loom, exploring how threads can escape and disrupt traditional woven construction
  • START: Primary Prints: over 200 children from local schools created prints and other artworks using the treasures at the Guildhall Museum as inspiration
  • Painting with Cloth: Cas Holmes' exhibition 'Painting with Cloth' explored the connection between landscape, people and place. Collecting free material as she goes, Cas creates marks with cloth, paint and stitch
  • Feels Like Forever Ago: showcasing the early work of Daisy Parris and Laurie Vincent. Their work is rooted in a post-punk iconographical collage style, commenting on the social fabric of the world around them
  • Anatomica: Paper Textiles from the Cabinet of Curiosity Studio: showcasing the work of Caroline Collinge, exploring design and visual art in the form of paper textiles and origami
  • Creative Destruction - Volcanoes inspiring art and science: exploring natural materials through sight and touch you will discover how to map out your findings in a field notebook
  • The Medway Print Festival: a festival with over 40 events and activities, showcasing some of the best printmaking being created today and highlighting the fascinating local history of the medium
  • Techno Fossils: Darrell Hawkins explored alternative Kent based ‘monoliths and monuments’ – overlooked, forgotten or obsolete structures across Kent that shape its current identity
  • Margo Selby: Pick by Pick: showcasing a colourful exhibition of hand-woven framed textiles
  • Pigmental: an exhibition of paintings by Karl Bielik
  • Of Fireships and Iron: showcasing the work of 5 Medway based artists pushing the boundaries of contemporary printmaking
  • Flax, Fibres and Plant Dyes: exploring the landscape of Kent for the Kent Cloth Project by Francesca Baur