It is February and we are finally in our fantastic newly refurbished Gallery and what a pleasure it is to be back! After 6 long weeks of dust, dirt, packing, drilling, building and painting – oh, so much painting, our gallery looks fresh, bright and ready for an exciting 2017.
As Robbie wrote in January my husband Neil and I have come on board with Robbie as partners in the Gallery. With our backgrounds in art history, education and business, and with Robbies creative flair and vision we will make a great team. We are really looking forward to the future. It was wonderful seeing the Gallery come to life again with every painting hung and object displayed. We want every piece in the space to really shine out and sing and for all who come through the door to feel that they are walking into a space where they are welcome, comfortable and able to reflect on and enjoy what they see. Carol Taylors painting The Kyles of Bute shimmers on the wall in Gallery 1, highlighted and accentuated by the flash of colour on the floor beneath it and echoing the tones of turquoise and blue in the work of Jan Lewin Cadogan.
The bright colours and soft textures of the gorgeous new textile bags by Fiona Burrage alongside the blues of Juliet McLouds pots and Will Shakespeares glass draw you across the room.
And of course Robbies very own work in Gallery 2 immerses you into the windswept hills and rugged beaches of Argylls Secret Coast. It is fantastic to have Robbies work on display and hopefully we will see more from him throughout the year.
We are very excited by our new Dark Room. The jet black walls and ceiling are perfect for our collection of Tom Butcher ceramics. Their muted tones and softly textured shapes contrast perfectly, the whole space becoming quite a sensory experience.
We have enjoyed creating such contrasting spaces in the Gallery and hope that they allow the viewer a variety of experiences throughout.
I have just finished reading a fantastic book called 'The Year of Living Danishly.' It is written by journalist Helen Russell who, upon her husband being offered a job with Lego (a dream for my young boys!), moved to Denmark for a year, subsequently extending that stay. She set herself the challenge of researching and exploring just why Denmark is the happiest nation in the world. It certainly made for an interesting read and one of the many things I took from it was that your home environment can play a large part in how you feel emotionally on a day to day basis. Your home, according to the Danes, should be a haven of serenity, with a carefully balanced mix of beautiful objects, uncluttered space, white walls and wooden floors. A pretty home is a good step towards a happy home. This approach resonates with my experience of working within a variety of art galleries where works of art tend to be displayed in white spaces and are carefully curated to ensure every piece has space to breath. To some extent I wonder whether this can sometimes be a bit scary for people. Perhaps this goes part way to explaining why many people who visit us talk about not having enough room in their home for more objects, some talk about not having enough space for a painting of a certain scale. Some cannot picture particular tones and colours of objects within a certain room. Obviously, with the redisplay of the gallery, I have been thinking about this a lot and I was reminded of a news story in 2016 of a man called Tim Sayer. Sayer was an ex BBC news writer who had spent 50 years amassing a huge collection of art which he was now gifting to the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield. His house positively groaned with objects, prints, drawings and paintings. They were EVERYWHERE! Every wall, every level on the walls, butted right up against each other and even hung on doors. Here was a man who loved art and wanted to literally surround himself with beautiful things.
Art collector donates entire house of works to the nation
There are endless possibilities of how our gallery could look. Our dark room is an example of experimentation. Tom Butcher looks fantastic in that space now but what goes in there next? Will the black work with other artists and makers? We will just have to try it and see and a fear of making mistakes should never hold us back.
There is no such things as a mistake. We should not be afraid to take risks and try new things. And I think the same goes for your environment at home. Be confident with your own feelings and opinions. Dont be scared by a paintings colour or scale. Surround yourself with what you love, experiment with how you display objects and explore how that makes you feel. Enjoy it!