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Neil Gower – Viva Lewes

Sat 8 January @ 10:30 am - Mon 18 April @ 5:00 pm

Neil Gower is an internationally acclaimed graphic artist, best known for his book jackets (Bill Bryson, William Golding) and literary cartography (Kazuo Ishiguro, Jilly Cooper, Simon Armitage). He was Contributing Artist to Conde Nast Traveller in New York for ten years, and his work has also appeared in The New Yorker, The Economist and Vanity Fair. Recent private commissions have included aerial garden views for Sir Roy Strong and Raymond Blanc. He trained at Brighton under the tutelage of Raymond Briggs and John Vernon Lord.

Neil moved to Lewes in 2000. The magazine Viva Lewes was launched in 2006. Given the far-flung nature of much of his work, he was quick to embrace the opportunity to celebrate his hometown and its surroundings. The flaming heart tattoo design for Issue 5 was his first. The covers he went on to produce for over 40 of the first 100 issues vividly capture the rich life, fabric, colour and light of Lewes and the South Downs. This selection of his Viva Lewes covers can be seen in the Print Gallery, alongside Dame Vera Lynn: An Extraordinary Life.

As befits an artist, Neil was born into black and now inhabits white: respectively the coal of the 1960s Rhondda Valley and the chalk trails of the South Downs. He still lives in the heart of Lewes, and also – when global events permit – in Kreuzberg, Berlin.

Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft commissioned Neil to create a special portrait of Dame Vera, following her death in 2020. ​Gower was inspired by the St Dominic’s Press bookplate designs in the museum’s collection. He has incorporated Sussex locations Dame Vera knew and loved, including the Ditchling village church St. Margaret’s, where she is also commemorated, and the Seven Sisters cliffs.​ Prints of this wonderful image, signed by the artist, are available to buy exclusively from our shop.​

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