Kate Pickard is lead member of the Gallery team. Here she tells us more about this superb space where local artists exhibit throughout the year.
Q. When was the Gallery originally opened?
A. In its present location – September 2013
Q. What’s the background to it opening?
A. The original Gallery was located in what is now the foyer. It was rather dark and the ceiling height, together with the shelving, restricted the display of art works. If you were a steward your only knowledge of the weather was when someone walked in with a brolly! The Board had always aimed to reopen 13 Bell Street, formerly a charity shop, as an art gallery.
Q.What are the main aims and objectives of the Gallery?
A. There are two different objectives. One is to promote local artists, giving them the opportunity to display and sell their work. Our fees are reasonable compared with commercial galleries and therefore we can be a good staging post for those who are just starting out on an artistic career.
The second objective is contributing to/reducing the running costs of the Arts Centre with our hiring fees and sales’ commissions.
Possibly a third objective is to enhance the visitor experience with what we hope is a welcoming, friendly and not too daunting gallery.
Q. Any idea of footfall?
A. In an average year [not 2020] we would probably see about 10,000 visitors through the doors. The largest exhibition for numbers is the annual Snowdrop Exhibition in February.
Q. Any funny stories/anecdotes?
A. Oh yes. A few phrases I’ve overheard spring to mind. ‘Please don’t hang it up yet, the paint isn’t dry’, ‘I’ve never bought a picture before’ and how about ‘Sorry I can’t buy that one, it doesn’t match my curtains’.
Q. And what are your hopes for the future of The Gallery?
A. Initially to get back to normal after Covid 19. Then to continue as we have been doing for the last seven years, which seems to be working.
Q. When will you reopen?
A. The Gallery is opening on 1 July with an exhibition by a group named Creative and Brave which will run until 14 July.
Q. And no doubt there’s been lots of additional work needed to ensure everything is ‘Covid-safe’?
A. We’ve been working very hard to interpret government guidelines, with screens around the desk, hand sanitiser on entering The Gallery and no entry via the main Arts Centre door. And of course we’ve also put together a very comprehensive list of ‘dos and don’t’ for the artists.