Rochester Art Gallery

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

We hold 4 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.

Visit Rochester Art Gallery

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

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

Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm.

Follow Rochester Art Gallery on Facebook and Instagram.

Current exhibitions

Unpicking Places: Ways of Making by Christopher Tipping

Date: Thursday 28 July 2022 to Friday 14 October 2022.

Preview: Thursday 28 July 2022, 6.30pm to 8.30pm - meet Christopher Tipping at the gallery. All welcome and refreshments served.

Cost: Free.

Activities: The exhibition will be accompanied by a range of activities including artist and summer self-led walks. For more information see our Rochester Art Gallery and Medway Arts social media pages.

About the exhibition

Artist Christopher Tipping has collaborated and delivered creative projects in urban public spaces for over 30 years.

This exhibition, with thanks to IP Surfaces, brings together a range of both his conceptual and completed work that respond to the theme of place. Most notably, it includes a range of recent and current commissions undertaken across Medway’s flagship waterfront developments.

Christopher Tipping explains how he became fascinated by places:

"We all store impressions of places we have visited and know intuitively how somewhere makes us feel. I have been creatively ‘looking’ at places since I was a child. It’s a habit, accepting and automatic, creatively surveying spaces, gently unpicking them. It is an emotional and personal process.

I am fascinated by the way places silently communicate with me and think about how I can communicate that sensibility directly to you. The trigger for a project is often a detail, something out of the usual. It is a combination of several strands of interest weaving a new narrative or perhaps telling an old story in new way.

I see social and industrial history trodden into pavements, threshold slabs, worn door handles. I notice texture, colour and context, the expressive language of a building, the characteristic craft and hand of an individual maker.

Curiosity, interpretation and telling stories are the sharpened tools of my trade. I seek out what might be considered hidden and forgotten, making connections between things past and present and forging new spaces and ways of making."

Francis Knight will curate the exhibition.

collage image of ‘Chatham Placemaking Project’ by Christopher Tipping. Includes photographs of monuments, buildings and locations around Chatham.
Collage image of Chatham Placemaking Project by Christopher Tipping.

Upcoming exhibitions

The Ghosts of Other Things: Art, Archaeology and The Rochester Airport Archaeological Dig 

Date: 28 October 2022 to 14 January 2023.

Cost: Free.

About the exhibition

The site of Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s dig, the starting point for this exhibition, lies within an area of human activity spanning thousands of years. Evidence from the site forms part of Rochester’s story and links to the broad patterns, connections and significances of history. The exhibition brings together art, archaeology and archive material linked to the site.

The emanations, fragments and traces from the site are part of a greater, unfinished flow of energies, stories and ghosts, passing through time, populations and generations. 

It spans from the Neolithic Kits Coty House of the first farmers overlooking the Medway, through patterns of migration, toil and conflict. It traces settlement stories of Romans, Vikings, Normans, Vortigen, Hengist, Horsa and the successive dynasties of Kent. It also includes stories of Shorts Brothers, of workers and families, creativity and history, innovation and conflict, and of the many ghosts that haunt Rochester.

From the land and soil, stories and myths of lives, loves, loss, achievements and failures emerge. From within the swirling dramas, shifts, loops and flow of time, the ghosts that shape our particular and collective dreams and visions take form. 

The Ghosts of Other Things is an exhibition created from fragments and traces. It is perhaps also the fragments and traces of our own unfinished stories and of the many ghosts which haunt us.

Exhibition created by Bryan Hawkins in partnership with the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and Rochester Art Gallery.

Artwork from The Ghost of Other Things art exhibition at Rochester Gallery.
Artwork for The Ghosts of Other Things exhibition.

Past exhibitions

Our past exhibitions have included:

  • Entangled Realms - 15 Years of Printmaking by Jane Furst: The enigmatic works of painter and printmaker Jane Furst are visual explorations drawing on her fascination with natural form and an early passion for both art and science. She has an interest in exploring metaphor and metaphysical ideas and is obsessed with the hidden nature and mysterious connection between diverse subjects.
  • Unknown Soldier - works by David Tovey: David Tovey is a formerly homeless artist, educator, activist and ex-soldier. Raw, uncompromising, and thought provoking, the exhibition explored questions highlighting the struggles that people face when they leave the armed forces. The show included paintings, photographs, memorabilia, film, installation and performance that documented David’s journey, as well as which embraced the wider issues associated with homelessness in all its forms.
  • All that Remains - Thirty Years in the Making by Neil Bottle: This exhibition explored family stories, nostalgia and memories using exquisitely layered, cutting-edge digital design and precious fragments of the artists archive of family photographs. The result was an autobiographical narrative printed onto cloth. It drew on memory - both real and imagined - in which physical photographic prints and digitally captured images were deconstructed and re-presented. The exhibition celebrated Neil’s 30 years as a textiles practitioner and was a milestone, unconfined by the constraints of the artist's commercial fashion print work.
  • The Last Dream of My Soul – Dickens 150 Print Open Call Exhibition: Dickens 150 Print Open Call Exhibition', was postponed several times due to COVID-19 (coronavirus) restrictions and finally opened in June 2021 bringing together the beautiful and varied work of 46 printmakers from all over the UK created especially for the exhibition. The show explored death in Dickens’ life and novels, and his long association with Medway. It included 100 new prints and delved into the Victorian obsession with mourning etiquette with unseen Victorian funerary treasures loaned from the Guildhall Museum collection.
  • Pattern and Beyond by University for the Creative Arts (UCA) Rochester: showcased work by over 20 students on the BA Fashion Textiles and MA Printed Textiles for Fashion and Interiors courses at UCA Rochester.  The wide variety of art on show reflected the diversity of students and the amazing opportunities available at UCA. The student designers created some beautiful pieces that stand out from the crowd as they launch into the constantly evolving fashion industry.
  • Out of Sight Not Out of Mind: showcased work created by people with sight loss, making art work at home in Medway. The project was led by Wendy Daws, MESS ROOM and Peer Arts who worked with this often hidden community to share their voices and creative talents and show that people's creative lives continue during lockdown. #OutOfSightNotOutOfMind2020.
  • Explore and Draw - Art in Lockdown: showed over 150 artworks by 88 'Explore & Draw' members created during lockdown via online classes. A celebration of the power of creativity to excite, unite and inspire, the show included work inspired by home, nature, spirituality and personal responses to the pandemic.
  • Echoes - Experiments by Zara CarpenterEchoes looked at the artists experience of past trauma and how its echoes have come to manifest themselves as physical pain, using photographs of her body using analogue cameras and experiments to disrupt the image and its chemistry to create abstractions.
  • 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.