REGARDED as one of the most affluent places in the country, Lewes has a patchwork history.

The last exhibition at a former ironworks site in the county town aims to tell something of its industrial heritage before old buildings make way for new development.

"Everybody thinks of Lewes as being a nice middle-class town and in fact it was a very industrial area. Sadly that has gone but we hope to keep it alive through this exhibition," says Wenda Bradley, a co-creator of the Foundry Gallery, which, after ten years, is closing because of the approved scheme for the Phoenix industrial estate.

Artemis Arts, which runs the gallery, is showing old prints of Lewes and the Phoenix Ironworks area as well as art and sculpture by a range of artists who have previously exhibited in the space.

Artists on show include Lewes resident Roger Dean, who designed all the record covers for prog-rock band Yes, and Harold Mockford, whose Sussex landscapes were exhibited at the Towner gallery in Eastbourne as part of a retrospective in 2012.

Elsewhere the painter Tom Benjamin and modernist abstract artist Harvey Daniels feature.

"It's not all pretty landscapes," says Wenda, "We wanted to celebrate the different artists we have shown over the past ten years."

Artemis Arts was set up in 2006 and has seen more than half a million visitors, artists, children and students in that time. With money from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Wenda, with co-founder Christine Hall, created and managed the Lewes Phoenix Project and worked to capture the stories and images of the ironworks. Their work goes to The Keep in Falmer after the exhibition.

Wenda described it as a "major project" with the intention of preserving the heritage of the area.

As well as exploring this extensive archive, the show will mix history, science, art and music with historic photographs from the Reeves Collection of Edward Reeves Photography in Lewes.

Films commissioned by Artemis and made by Mick Hawksworth will be screened including The Flood and one made by pupils from Priory School.

The Phoenix Ironworks started business in Lewes in 1832 but burnt down in 1835. True to its name, though, the Phoenix rose again in Railway Lane. It outgrew this site and relocated to North Place in 1861. The foundry was run in turn by four generations of the Every family and by the early 1900s was exporting products across the British Empire. The company declined after the Second World War and finally closed down in 1986.

The gallery, though going in its current form, may well get an arts space in the new 400-home development on the site.

Wenda adds, "Since it is called the Phoenix we expect it to rise again."

INDUSTRY AND ART - A STORY OF REAL LEWES runs at the Foundry Gallery, North Street, Lewes, Saturday, June 25, to Sunday, July 3, opens 11am-5pm, closed Mondays, free, visit


ATOM WORKSHOP - Saturday, June 25, 2pm-4pm

A tribute to Sir Harry Kroto, who died last month. The Lewesian Nobel Prize-winner opened the first exhibition at the gallery in 2006. Sir Harry generated the Buckminsterfullerine ("Buckyball") atom, also known as a C60 atom, in 1985. The workshop is led by Dr Jonathan Hare and participants get to make their own model of the atom.

FOUNDRY HISTORY TALK - Sunday, June 26, 3pm

John Blackwell of the Industrial Archaeology Society will be talking to people about the history of the Phoenix Foundry.

THE PHOENIX CANTATA - Friday, July 1, 8pm, tickets £10/£8

Excerpts of the work by local composer Helen Glavin performed by the Everyman Choir and the Paddock Singers. It is a new choral work inspired by the people and legacy of the Phoenix Ironworks. Singers are accompanied by solo violinist Susan Moate.