Historic Timeline of the Fishslab Gallery

    • The idea of the Fishslab Gallery was first discussed in the early 1990s by the group of Whitstable Artists, who had studios in a former warehouse known as Johnny’s Arthouse. They had been given permission to use the building by the council until it was demolished to make way for the Horsebridge Centre. Jeanne Harrison, a Tankerton ward councillor helped them secure the empty former wet-fish shop owned by Canterbury Council.
    • Jon Bird, Norma Fryer and Estelle Jordan asked a group of 17 artists to be benefactors and put in £200 each which they could then withdraw once the gallery was up and running. They were reimbursed in 2011.
    • June 2009 the flat above the gallery was refurbished, water supplies were turned on and by 2011 gallery improvements had been completed.
    • August 2009 formal lease was signed with Canterbury council.
    • 28 July 2010, to coincide with the Oyster Festival, artists were given an A4 frame for £25 and created a piece of artwork and sold the works at an annual exhibition, this ran for several years until 2019, known as ‘A4 Anon’ and was a good fundraiser for the gallery.
    • A local magazine The Imp in January 2011 reported a mixed media recent exhibition of several artists.
    • 29 September 2011 according to a newspaper article for the Whitstable Times Paul Elliott held a controversial exhibition called One Man’s Show which locals objected to and Treasurer Jon Bird stated that the constitution meant it had “no power […] over the right of editing or censorship” and that the gallery is a “dry hire exhibition space”. https://www.keithbrymerjones.com/blog/fish-slab-gallery-whitstable/
    • January 2012 the role of each of the committee members was defined and Barbara Drinkwater became the Chair. A Fishslab banner and logo were created.
    • The Fishslab Gallery held an annual open competition that enabled local artists to submit work and awarded prizes in different categories.  After the death of Jon Bird in 2016, the competition was renamed to commemorate all of his work and is now known as the Jon Bird Memorial Exhibition.  This was a mark of respect to honour all the work and time he had given to establishing the Gallery in the town.
    • The first time a collective of Fishslab artists and committee members held an exhibition at the Horsebridge Centre was in 2014.  They will be celebrating 15 years of the Fishslab Gallery with a similar exhibition in September 2023.
    • During Covid19 the committee held their meetings via Zoom.  At this time they were given financial help via Canterbury Council to reimburse the artists’ bookings as they were forced to close.
    • In January 2022 the Fishslab held a successful and well supported Jon Bird competition, the first we were able to hold since 2019 due to Covid related closures. The competition was the first to include specific categories for under 21s and under 18s. We hope to be able to run another Jon Bird competition in the near future.
      • Bookings open in August for the following year.